Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had a bilateral meeting with the Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Richard Marles Wednesday.
The Australian DPM used the official engagement to reaffirm his country’s bilateral relations and cooperation with Solomon Islands and also made announcements in key areas of cooperation which include the support for 2024 national general election, opening of a New High Dependency Unit at the National Referral Hospital (NRH), a maritime package, provision of Royal Solomon Islands Police Force small fast crafts and upgrading support of Sasape Shipyard.
Marles reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to fund the national general election with the funding support of AUD$25m (US$15.8 million).
He also spoke at length on Australia’s continuous support in the area of security particularly in policing.
The deputy PM and Minister of Defence also assured PM Sogavare of Australia’s commitment to provide security at the Pacific Games under the auspices of the Solomon Islands Assistance Force (SIAF).
Other areas that the visiting deputy PM and Defense minister touched on include Australia’s commitments in the areas of UXO operations, Australian Board Force support through deployment, labour mobility, on- going support on infrastructure developments, support to Health infrastructure, renewable energy and education.
In response, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare conveyed the country’s appreciation to Australia’s on- going support in the area of security.
Assessments are still on- going to determine the security needs during the Games and should there be areas to address, Australia will be notified through appropriate channels.
PM Sogavare also emphasised on the need to strengthen sustainable approaches to RSIPF institutional and capacity trainings. The November riot of 2021 calls for a review of these trainings.
The Prime Minister further highlighted the need for security partners (including Australia) to allow for more dialogue, engagement and cooperation with the Pacific family to ensure that our priorities are reflected in the security cooperation.
PM Sogavare called for more support to strengthen our capacity and capability to respond to internal security challenges.
The Prime Minister expressed the need to review the current security treaty between the two countries to take into account the changing security challenges faced by both countries.
The Prime Minister also expressed deep appreciation to the government of Australia for the financial support towards the national general election.
PM Sogavare further conveyed the government’s appreciation to Australia for support in the areas of labour mobility scheme, on- going support for Health infrastructure development, Pacific Games and Climate Change.
More attention is needed on the need for a reciprocal visa waiver which will encourage more opportunities in tourism, business and socio- cultural exchanges, said PM Sogavare.