ACTING Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was paid a courtesy visit by the Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne at the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet in Honiara, on Thursday.
Mr Sogavare welcomed Senator Payne and her delegation who are currently on a Pacific tour to increase its engagement with its Pacific partners.
Acting & Deputy Prime Minister Sogavare took the opportunity to highlight the importance of regional security and the important role played by Australia in the region.
Sogavare also conveyed on behalf of the Government and people his acknowledgement to Australia’s leading role in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) over the past 14 years.
“We have had our share of experiences in law and order during the civil crisis. We fell but we got up again and we are grateful for Australia through RAMSI for helping us recover from the crisis,” he said.
Sogavare said Solomon Islands dared not to go down that path again.
He said in terms of security in the region, it should and it must be a joint responsibility to keep the Pacific region safe.
The acting Prime Minister also spoke highly of the South Pacific Intelligence Dialogue (SPID) held in Honiara last week which discussions had centred on promoting and encouraging peace and security in the region.
Sogavare has also raised issues on the SI/PNG border and maritime security.
The Australian Defence Minister Senator Payne in response reiterated Australia’s commitment to regional security.
She said Australia will be reinforcing its security in the region.
“Australia is appreciative of the progress Solomon Islands has made in the last 14 years and the positive transformation of the RSIPF,” she highlighted.
Senator Payne also assured the acting Prime Minister that Australia will continue to work closely with the Solomon Islands in the areas of maritime security and border security.
“The partnership with Solomon Islands is very vital to Australia,” the Defence Minister said.
Meanwhile, Sogavare has also welcomed the Australia’s coast watchers initiative that is currently providing visible and physical presence at the western border.