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Australia raises deep concerns about security agreement of Solomon Islands with China

ANI | Updated: May 08, 2022 02:58 IST

Canberra [Australia], May 8 (ANI): Australian Foreign Minister met her Solomon Islands counterpart and raised deep concerns over the security arrangement between China and the island nation.
Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne yesterday said she met Solomon Islands Development Planning and Aid Coordination Minister Jeremiah Manele in the Australian east coast city of Brisbane as he transited through the airport on Friday night, reported Taipei Times.
"Australia has been consistent and clear in stating our respect for Solomon Islands' sovereign decision-making, however we have reiterated our deep concerns about the security agreement with China, including the lack of transparency," Payne's office said in a statement.
Payne's office said the pair agreed that Australia remained the Solomon Islands' security partner of choice and that the Solomon Islands would not host a foreign military base less than 2,000 km off Australia's northeast coast.
Soloman Islands and China last month signed the framework agreement on security cooperation that US and allies fear could be used to establish a military base in the Pacific island nation.
However, Manele could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan told Australian Broadcasting Corp that the two Ministers had a "very productive conversation," reported Taipei Times.
A Chinese base in the Solomon Islands was not in the interests of the region, Tehan said.
"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 the militarization of the Pacific islands," Tehan said.
Tehan said Payne and Manele also discussed how Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government needed to keep working on the bilateral relationship.
After details of a draft pact were released, Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja flew to the Solomon Islands' capital, Honiara, on April 12 to unsuccessfully ask the government to abandon it, reported Taipei Times.
Despite repeated denial from China over plans to militarise the Solomon Islands, the security experts remain wary of Beijing's intentions. (ANI)