Australia sent two of its top spy chiefs to the Solomon Islands to discuss a controversial security agreement that the Pacific Island nation signed with China.
According to ABC News, on April 6, Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s office issued a statement revealing he would hold a meeting with a “special envoy” sent to Honiara by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Sogavare’s office also posted a picture of him with Paul Symon, head of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), and Andrew Shearer, director-general of the Office of National Intelligence.
The statement reads, “The meeting provided a platform for the two countries to better understand each other, in particular on Solomon Islands’ decision to its broadened security partnership with China and other countries.
“China remains an important trading partner for both countries. The meeting discussed Australia’s core security concerns, Solomon Islands reassured Australia that its security concerns are domestically focused and compliments current bilateral security Agreement with Australia and the regional security architecture.”
Sogavare said Australia remained the Solomon Islands’ “partner of choice,” emphasizing its foreign policy of “friends to all and enemies to none.”
Australia and New Zealand have publicly stated their concerns about drafts of a security pact between China and the Solomon Islands.
The draft said that China would be able to send police, armed police, military personnel, and other law enforcement and armed forces to the Solomon Islands.