Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele and some of the Solomon Islanders working at Primo Foods in Brisbane

Solomon Islands new Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele is in Australia on his first state visit since taking office.

A meeting with Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese is on schedule to discuss strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations.

Dr Graeme Smith from the Australian National University’s department of Pacific Affairs, said economic development is likely to be the main topic of discussion for the Solomon Islands side.

“Given the state of the Solomon Islands economy and give the state of the Solomon Islands budget, I think they’re going to be looking for support in health and education,” Smith said.

PM Manele will also seek an ­urgent budget bailout for his country when he meets Anthony Albanese in Canberra on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the new leader of Solomon Islands has announced he will visit China to “reaffirm” his commitment to working with Beijing — a relationship viewed with unease in Western capitals.

Solomons Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele is heading to China following a week-long trip to Australia, his office said in a statement Monday.

The Pacific leader will tour China from early July, meeting with the Chinese “leadership” in Beijing as well as visiting the provinces of Fujian and Shandong, it said.

“Manele wishes to use the visit to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries and reaffirm his government’s commitment to work with China in areas of mutual interest.”
He will then travel to Tokyo from 16-18 July for a meeting with other Pacific leaders.

Manele’s three-nation tour is his first official international trip as prime minister since he replaced enthusiastic Beijing supporter Manasseh Sogavare in May.

The Solomons leader has been less strident in his support for China than Sogavare, who severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan and was seen as deeply sceptical of both Australia and the United States.

Sogavare notably signed a secretive security pact with Beijing in 2022 that alarmed the United States and its Pacific allies, including Australia.

Manele has nevertheless reaffirmed his support for the “one China” principle and expressed his “deep appreciation” for Chinese investment and aid.

The Solomons leader is currently on a June 23-29 visit to Australia.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is to host Manele at parliament for talks to strengthen relations “including through security partnerships”, Albanese’s office has said.

Discussions in Canberra are expected to include police cooperation, humanitarian aid and a scheme offering agricultural work in Australia for Solomon Islanders..