Canberra is concerned about a ‘secret’ security deal between the Solomon Islands and China, PM says
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Solomon Islands leader Manasseh Sogavare to remain “Be calm” after he said his country was being “Threatened with Invasion” over a security pact it signed with China.
“These issues can be dealt with calmly and compliantly.,” Morrison said on Thursday, insisting the relationship between Australia and the Solomon Islands remained friendly even while acknowledging he was concerned over “Security” in the region following Sogavare’s decision to sign the “secret arrangement” with China.
Sogavare has criticized both the US and Australia’s response to the security pact his island recently signed with Beijing, insisting there is “Nothing to be worried about” and that the island nation is “insulted” by the West’s response to the move.
“We are being treated as kindergarten students walking around with Colt 45s in our hands” who “Supervision is required,” Sogavare complained, insisting his country was being “Threatened with Invasion” over the controversial pact and that Australia’s response demonstrated a “Trustlessness.”
Sogavare said on Tuesday that there had been a “Warning about military intervention” in the Solomon Islands if other countries’ security goals were undermined. “Invasion is imminent,” he warned. “That is serious.”
Morrison insisted that Australia remained Honiara’s “Partner principal in security,” and that his country trusted the island nation as an equal.
Although the final text of the agreement between China and the island nation has not yet been published (a draft was leaked in March). It stated that Chinese warships would be allowed safe harbour in the islands.
Morrison had previously warned that a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands would be considered a “The red line” for Canberra, though he did not explain what he would do to prevent it, or how.
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The Australian PM dismissed suggestions during the press conference on Thursday that he had damaged the relationship between Canberra and Honiara, arguing he hadn’t spoken to his Solomon Islands counterpart on the advice of his country’s security agencies. He previously accused China of “interfering” in the Indo-Pacific region, expressing concern that the cooperation pact could eventually lead to the construction of a Chinese military base in the island nation, 2,000 kilometers away from Australia.
Australia will go to the polls May 21. Morrison faces fierce criticism for his foreign policy after the agreement between Honiara, Beijing.
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