Solomon Islands PM says he signed China security pact ‘with open eyes’

Sogavare said the agreement with China “complements” his country’s existing treaty with Australia.

He argued that if the Solomon Islands had continued with the status quo, they would not be able to fill the “critical security gaps”.

“Let me assure people that we reached an agreement with China with open eyes, guided by our national interests,” he said.

Sogavare called on all “neighbours, friends and associates of his nation to respect the sovereign interests of the Solomon Islands.”

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne criticized the Solomon Islands on Wednesday for a “lack of transparency” and for failing to consult with other Pacific nations on the deal.

She defended not traveling to the Solomon Islands to advocate against the pact as Australia’s leading foreign policy figure; instead, the country’s Pacific minister, Zed Seselja, visited last week and asked Sogavare not to sign it.

The United States’ top Asia official, Kurt Campbell, will arrive in the Solomon Islands later this week along with Daniel Kritenbrink, the Under Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

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