CANBERRA, Australia – Amid concerns over the regional impact of a China-Solomon Islands security deal, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong will travel to the Pacific Islands to meet with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare .
In a press release, Wong said she would travel to the Solomon Islands and New Zealand on her third visit to the Pacific since becoming foreign minister last month.
The statement added that Wong will meet with Sogavare and that Australia aims to deepen its cooperation with the Solomon Islands on shared challenges, including climate change.
“I look forward to discussing ways we can continue to make progress on pandemic recovery, economic development and labor mobility priorities, and address our shared security interests,” he said.
Several Pacific island nations have said the security pact, along with a Chinese proposal for a comprehensive security and trade deal with 10 nations in the region, will be discussed at next month’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting. to be held in Suva, Fiji.
Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Sogavare met in Honiara and agreed to deepen cooperation in fisheries, mining, infrastructure and trade between China and the Solomon Islands.
The security pact with the Solomon Islands will enhance surveillance and protect Chinese citizens and institutions there, Wang said during the visit, adding: “China supports Pacific island countries to strengthen security cooperation and work together.” to address regional security challenges.
Although Sogavare has denied that the pact allows for a military base for the Chinese, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the US have expressed concern that Beijing could establish a military presence in the region.