Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne meets her Solomon Islands counterpart for the first time since signing the security agreement with China

Payne met Jeremiah Manele overnight as he drove through Brisbane.

Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in 2019. (AP)

“Australia has been consistent and clear in declaring its respect for the sovereign decision-making of the Solomon Islands, but we have reiterated our deep concerns about the security agreement with China, including the lack of transparency,” said Payne in a statement.

“I reinforced that again in my meeting tonight.

“We have agreed that Australia remains Solomon Islands’ security partner of choice.”

Marise Payne met her counterpart from the Solomon Islands.
Marise Payne met her counterpart from the Solomon Islands. (Alex Ellinghausen)

“I again welcomed Prime Minister Sogavare’s assurance that the Solomon Islands will not be used as a foreign military base.

“Australia will always work constructively and respectfully with our Pacific family.”

The meeting was welcomed by opposition leader Anthony Albanese.

“It was about time,” he said.

Anthony Albanese sorts jars of jam during the election campaign in Launceston.
Anthony Albanese sorts jars of jam during the election campaign in Launceston. (Alex Ellinghausen)

He said he was not sure if Shadow Foreign Secretary Penny Wong had been invited to the meeting, but said it would have been appropriate under the interim mode rules under which the government operates during election campaigns. .

The meeting came days after Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said his country was “threatened with invasion”.

“We are treated like kindergarteners walking around with Colt 45s in our hands, so we have to be watched,” he told his country’s parliament.

“We are insulted, Mr. President.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison described China’s construction of a military base in the Solomon Islands as a “red line”.

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