PM welcomes Payne Solomon Islands talks

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A meeting between Foreign Minister Marise Payne and her Solomons Islands counterpart was a positive step forward, according to the prime minister.

Scott Morrison said the meeting between Senator Payne and Jeremiah Manele in Brisbane reinforced Australia's role in the region.

The meeting came following heightened tensions between the two countries in the wake of the Solomons signing a security pact with China.

"It also reassured, once again that the Solomon Islands are not considering or would not support the establishment of a naval presence," he told reporters in Perth on Saturday.

"There was the opportunity for a meeting to take place here, and that was a sensible opportunity to take up."

However, the prime minister did not comment on why it took so long for the meeting to take place following news of the security pact.

Senator Payne confirmed the meeting occurred as Mr Manele travelled through Brisbane on Friday, where she expressed concern about the lack of transparency around the pact.

"Australia has been consistent and clear in stating our respect for Solomon Islands' sovereign decision-making," she said.

"We agreed that Australia remains the Solomon Islands' security partner of choice."

Senator Payne said she had been reassured the Pacific nation would not house a foreign military base.

The prime minister also declined to say whether New Zealand should have a bigger effort in the Pacific to counter Chinese aggression.

"(Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern) shares the same passion for the Pacific region," Mr Morrison said.

"We've worked closely to ensure that (the Pacific step up) harmonise together."

Trade Minister Dan Tehan said he was told it had been a "very productive conversation".

He told the ABC on Saturday the pair had also discussed how the Morrison government needed to keep working at the relationship.

Mr Morrison had warned any construction of a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands would be a "red line".

But he has not detailed what the consequences would be if the line was crossed.

Mr Tehan said the point being made was that no one saw a Chinese base in the Solomon Islands as in the interests for the region.

"What we want to do is to be making sure that we're presenting a very strong case as to why it is incredibly important that we don't see militarisation of the Pacific Islands," Mr Tehan said.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said it was good Senator Payne and Mr Manele had met.

"It's about time," he said.

Labor has attacked the Morrison government's handling of ties with the Solomon Islands, with deputy leader Richard Marles saying on Friday that repairing the relationship with the nation would be a priority for his party.

"It's really important, obviously, that Australia presents itself as wanting to help the people of the Pacific in the challenges that they face," he said.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting