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Marise Payne meets with Solomon Islands’ Jeremiah Manele in Brisbane

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne meets with her Solomons Islands counterpart over continuing fears about its Chinese security deal

  • Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with Solomon Islands’ Jeremiah Manele 
  • Meeting in Brisbane came after Solomon Islands signed security pact with China
  • Senator Payne expressed concern around the lack of transparency in the pact 

Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with her Solomon Islands counterpart Jeremiah Manele in Brisbane overnight.

It comes amid tense relationships between Canberra and Honiara after the Solomons Island signed a security pact with China.

Senator Payne confirmed the meeting occurred as Mr Manele travelled through Brisbane on Friday, where she expressed concern about the lack of transparency around the pact.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with her Solomon Islands counterpart Jeremiah Manele in Brisbane overnight

Senator Payne confirmed the meeting occurred as Mr Manele travelled through Brisbane on Friday, where she expressed concern about the lack of transparency around the pact

Senator Payne confirmed the meeting occurred as Mr Manele travelled through Brisbane on Friday, where she expressed concern about the lack of transparency around the pact

‘Australia has been consistent and clear in stating our respect for Solomon Islands’ sovereign decision-making,’ she said.

‘We agreed that Australia remains Solomon Islands’ security partner of choice.’

Senator Payne said she had been reassured the Pacific nation would not house a foreign military base.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the meeting between Senator Payne and Mr Manele reinforced Australia’s role in the region. 

‘It also reassured, once again that the Solomon Islands are not considering or would not support the establishment of a naval presence,’ he said.

‘There was the opportunity for a meeting to take place here, and that was a sensible opportunity to take up.’

However, the prime minister did not comment on why it took so long for the meeting to take place following news of the security pact. 

Trade Minister Dan Tehan said he was told it had been a ‘very productive conversation’.

He told the ABC on Saturday the pair had also discussed how the Morrison government needed to keep working at the relationship.

Mr Morrison has warned any construction of a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands would be a ‘red line’.

But he has not detailed what the consequences would be if the line was crossed.

Mr Tehan said the point being made was that no one saw a Chinese base in the Solomon Islands as in the interests for the region.

Senator Payne said she had been reassured the Pacific nation would not house a foreign military base after the Solomon Islands signed a security pact with China

Senator Payne said she had been reassured the Pacific nation would not house a foreign military base after the Solomon Islands signed a security pact with China

‘What we want to do is to be making sure that we’re presenting a very strong case as to why it is incredibly important that we don’t see militarisation of the Pacific Islands,’ Mr Tehan said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said it was good Senator Payne and Mr Manele had met.

‘It’s about time,’ he said.

Labor has attacked the Morrison government’s handling of ties with the Solomon Islands, with deputy leader Richard Marles saying on Friday that repairing the relationship with the nation would be a priority for his party.

‘It’s really important, obviously, that Australia presents itself as wanting to help the people of the Pacific in the challenges that they face,’ he said.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told the Solomon Islands parliament this week the country was being treated like kindergarten students ‘walking around with Colt 45s in our hands’ who needed to be supervised.

Prime minister Scott Morrison said the meeting between Senator Payne and Mr Manele reinforced Australia's role in the region

Prime minister Scott Morrison said the meeting between Senator Payne and Mr Manele reinforced Australia’s role in the region

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