The Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific Hon. Zed Seselja is in Honiara to further strengthen Australia’s relationship with Solomon Islands.
Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific Hon. Zed Seselja. Photo Courtesy of Canberra Weekly.
In a statement, Senator Seselja says his discussions will include the proposed Solomon Islands-China security agreement.
He says the visit follows recent dialogue and visits between the Solomon Islands Government and Australian officials.
“Direct engagement has been ongoing, including discussions between Foreign Minister Payne and Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Manele, as well as my own discussions with Pacific family partners in Brisbane over the weekend ahead of the Our Ocean Conference in Palau,” the statement said.
The Senator adds, Solomon Islands is a valued member of [our] Pacific family.
“We respect the right of Solomon Islands to make sovereign decisions about its national security. We look forward to ongoing engagement with Solomon Islands, and with our Pacific family members, on these very important issues. Our view remains that the Pacific family will continue to meet the security needs of our region,” Senator Seselja says in the statement.
The Senator for the Australian Capital Territory since 2013 says Australia will always support its Pacific family, reflected in their ‘Pacific step up’.
This includes their enhanced cooperation on COVID-19 resilience and economic recovery, health, infrastructure, climate resilience, security and other shared challenges.
For many years, Australia has stood strongly as a partner and a friend of Solomon Islands.
Senator Seselja says Australia has worked with other Pacific family members to support Solomon Islands, including as part of the Solomon Islands Assistance Force (SIAF), and earlier through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
SIBC News understands the Senator is holding a press conference with members of the local media today.
Minister Seselja’s visit to Honiara comes two weeks after the controversial security pact between Solomon Islands and China that set alarm bells in Australia and Western allies – on fear this will enable a Chinese military foothold in the South Pacific.
by Jared Koli