Peter Dutton ‘very happy’ to back Labor government on Pacific policy ahead of regional meeting OCN News

Opposition leader Peter Dutton will offer bipartisan support to the new Labor government on policies regarding the South Pacific, amid tensions with the Solomon Islands.
Mr. Dutton underlined the importance of the region for Australia.
“I have met with the leaders as far as possible during COVID, most obviously virtually,” the former defense minister told reporters in Canberra on Friday.
“I have been friends and have met with delegations and spoken with leaders from the Pacific Islands during my tenure in Parliament, and I am very, very keen to continue that relationship, to build that relationship, to offer bipartisan support.”

“So I would be very happy to support the government in any way.”

Senator the Honorable Penny Wong met with Manasseh Sogavare and ministers and exchanged gifts.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare presents Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong with a gift ahead of their meeting in Honiara. Credit: DFAT

The Solomon Islands have criticized Australia’s reaction to the country’s signing of a security agreement with China in April.

Details of the pact have not yet been made public, but a suggests the deal includes provisions for Chinese navy ships to dock in the Solomons and the deployment of Chinese police to the country in the event of a riot.
Australia has expressed concern that this could lead to Beijing establishing a military base in the Solomon Islands, a former .

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The leader of the Pacific nation was insulted by the comments and, while not mentioning Australia by name, said his government was being treated like kindergarteners. who needed to be watched.
In a bid to restore relations, new Foreign Minister Penny Wong visited Honiara last week and met with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Senator Wong said she was or a continued Chinese military presence in the Solomons.

The Foreign Secretary has made three Pacific tours, visiting five countries since taking office last month, in a bid to restore relations ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in mid-July.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed that he will attend the regional meeting, as will Mr. Sogavare, giving the two leaders the opportunity to meet for the first time.
Last month, ten Pacific countries refused a regional security and trade agreement with China at the meeting of foreign ministers in Fiji.
China has pledged to amend and pursue a region-wide agreement as it tries to strengthen its influence in the region. Something that will undoubtedly be on the agenda of the forum meeting.

With the AAP

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