The Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs said, on Sunday, that the controversial security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands will not end the defense cooperation of her country with the archipelago.
Maryse Payne told ABC that the current security treaty between Australia and the Solomon Islands could continue, even if the archipelago ignores the Canberra recommendation and signs an agreement with China.
The minister emphasized that in accordance with the treaty, “the aid force made up of the Pacific family of nations – Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea – headed to the islands at the end of last year to support the management of the disturbances.” It was sparked by protests against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavari.
A leaked draft of the security agreement sparked tension in the region last month over provisions that would allow Chinese security to intervene in the Solomon Islands and carry out naval deployments.
Since the terms of the agreement were announced, Sugavari has stated that he “has no intention” of asking China to build military bases on the islands.
In the face of growing concern over the agreement, Australia’s Pacific Minister, Zed Siselja, visited the islands and met with Prime Minister Sogavari.
According to a statement, Cecilga asked Sogavari to “respectfully consider not signing the agreement and to consult with the Pacific family in the spirit of regional openness and transparency.”
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