Australian defence minister in Solomon Islands for security talks

Australian defence minister in Solomon Islands for security talks

Australia’s defence minister is scheduled to meet with the leader of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, on Wednesday to discuss security. This visit comes at a time when China is increasing its involvement in the Pacific nation’s police force. Richard Marles, on his first visit to the Solomon Islands as defence minister, is also expected to meet members of the Solomon Islands International Assistance Force, which includes Australian police deployed in 2021 to quell anti-government riots. Before arriving in the capital, Honiara, Marles emphasized the importance of Australia’s partnership with the Solomon Islands. He stated that Australia will continue to engage with the Solomon Islands in various sectors, including jobs, health, and security, to meet their needs. Australia has a long-standing security relationship with the Solomon Islands and is a major aid donor.

China’s increased funding for infrastructure in the Solomon Islands and the security pact signed between China and the Solomon Islands have raised concerns in Canberra and Washington about Beijing’s naval ambitions in the region. Chinese police have been playing a larger role in training and equipping the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force in recent months. China has also funded the upcoming Pacific Games in Honiara and built several stadiums and venues for the event. Chinese police have pledged to support the Solomon Islands’ police throughout and after the games, emphasizing the importance of stability in Honiara for the Solomon Islands.

Since May, China has been providing training to the Solomon Islands’ police in various areas such as riot control, combat skills, criminal case investigation, economic crime, and route security. They have also delivered security equipment to the police force. In addition to meeting with Manasseh Sogavare, Richard Marles will also meet with Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele during his visit to the Solomon Islands.

The article was reported by Kirsty Needham and edited by Robert Birsel. The Thomson RushHourDaily Trust Principles apply to this article.

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