PM reassures Australia of ‘no military base here’

Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare
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PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has assured Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong that there will be no China military presence or foreign military base in Solomon Islands.

Mr Sogavare made this reassurance when he met with Australia’s foreign minister during her one-day visit to Honiara last week, Friday.

Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele had signed the controversial Security Agreement with China on April 14.

United States of America, Australia and other Western countries have raised concern on the security agreement that could bring security instability in the Pacific region.

According to the leaked draft agreement on social media, it allows China to deploy police and military personnel in Solomon Islands to protect the safety of Chinese personnel and major projects in Solomon Islands.

It also states that China’s government may make ship visits n Solomon Islands.

Senator Wong told media at Honiara International Airport before her departure to Adelaide last Friday that they did discuss regional security and obviously one of the issues that the region has been discussing.

“I think the Prime Minister (Manasseh Sogavare) is aware of Australia’s concern and views.

“But what most importantly was he is aware like many other Pacific family is off the view that our regional security is a joint responsibility and the responsibility of Pacific family,” she said.

“As I said that on the outset, I welcomed Prime Minister reassurances which the same reassurances he given publicly that government does not intent for there to be a persistent military presence or foreign military base here in Solomon Islands,” she added.

Furthermore, Senator Wong said Australia will do what Australia thinks it’s a right thing to do.

“We will work with you on your developments, health priorities, education priorities, climate priorities and on your security priorities and we have.

“On the successive government we have sort of doing that, we may not be perfect but we are family,” she said.

“We live in the same region, your security and our security are interlinked.

“And that’s how we will approach our relationship with you,” she added.

PM Sogavare, Foreign Minister Manele and Permanent Secretary Collin Beck continued to defend the security agreement with China that it targets domestic issues in the country like internal security, national disasters and climate change.