Australia coy on Solomons ship ban

·2-min read

Australia's ships are included in the Solomon Island's temporary ban on foreign navy visits, as the Albanese government seeks clarification from Honiara.

British and United States vessels cancelled Honiara port calls last week due to bureaucratic delays.

The Solomons Island government on Tuesday issued a statement: "We have requested our partners to give us time to review and put in place our new processes before sending further requests for military vessels to enter the country."

"Once the new mechanism is in place, we will inform you all.

"We anticipate the new process to be smoother and timelier."

The US considers the statement - which comes amid heightened tensions following the Solomon Islands' security pact with China - a formal moratorium on navy ships.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said it was a matter for the Solomon Islands government, but did not clarify whether it impacted Australian ships.

"It is ultimately a matter for them, which we respect, in terms of how they manage naval business," he said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters he wouldn't discuss security briefings when asked if he had been updated on the issue.

"What I can see clearly is Australia is re-engaged with the Pacific," Mr Albanese said.

Asked if he had sought clarification from the Solomons Islands, Mr Marles said there were "ongoing conversations" with Honiara.

Mr Albanese plans to meet with Solomons leader Manasseh Sogavare in Australia in coming weeks.

Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko says the Solomon Islands needed to think about the repercussions of its decision.

"(If) you keep on pushing away a friendly ally, in times of need they may not be there for you," he told the ABC when asked about potential repercussions.

"That's why being friends to all and enemies to none and working with everyone for the benefit of your people and your country is the right way forward."

Australia and Papua New Guinea are in talks on a security pact, which could possibly include New Zealand.

Mr Tkatchenko says the security agreement was based on a "common understanding" as opposed to a response to the China-Solomons pact.

"We're not worried about China at all," he said.

"We're comfortable with the current situation and we look forward to seeing what Australia wants to put on the table."

New Zealand's foreign ministry says the government hasn't been approached by Port Moresby with regards to a formal security arrangement.

"We look forward to engaging with the new government in Papua New Guinea and identifying areas for cooperation," a ministry spokesperson said.

Under its deal with Beijing, the Solomons Islands government can ask China to send armed police and the military to the country.