Australia will help prop up the Solomon Islands police force after a request from its prime minister as the federal government works to increase its role in addressing the nation’s security needs.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed his counterpart Jeremiah Manele with a guard of honour at Parliament House on Wednesday ahead of high-level meetings.

The Australian Federal Police commissioner took part in the meeting with the Solomons delegation as Manele raised expanding the police force to 3000 officers as a first step in strengthening security and stability.

“That’s not by accident because Australia has historically played a role in training, in delivering support for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force,” Albanese said of the commissioner’s presence alongside Manele on Wednesday.

“We have tasked ministers and officials to continue discussions on how this request could further strengthen sovereignty and regional stability and to work together on next steps.”

Security was intertwined with development, Manele said, but he acknowledged “our partners – China and Australia – they have security strategic interests as well”.

“Our security partnerships, including with China, is domestically focused. We are trying to address internal security challenges,” he said.

“In our case, we see security through a development lens. As a country, we have wider and deeper development interests.

“It’s important for us to work with all our partners to address these development challenges going forward.”

Australia is open to a “stronger and deeper partnership with the Solomon Islands in accordance with their priorities” that include economic development and growth, Albanese said.
The creation of jobs through aiding infrastructure projects as well as the Pacific labour mobility scheme has helped prop up Solomons’ development, he said.

Manele invited the prime minister to visit Solomon Islands after making Australia his first international trip since assuming office in May.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Defence Minister Richard Marles and Pacific Minister Pat Conroy have all since visited Honiara.

“We see the opportunity here to build a new partnership with Solomon Islands with a new government in place,” Marles said on Wednesday.

“And we are very optimistic, optimistic about the prospects of being able to pursue that with him.”

The Australian government is on a charm offensive in the Solomons after former prime minister Manasseh Sogavare inked a security pact with China.

Canberra is vehemently opposed to any Chinese security presence in the Pacific and warned there is no role for Beijing when it comes to policing.

Australia maintains it is the “security partner of choice” for Pacific nations and that any other security pacts should go through the Pacific Islands Forum as the regional body.

Australia and Pacific island nations were “well placed to meet the security needs of our region”, Albanese said.

“We regard security as the job of our Pacific family, he said.