Scott Morrison is facing heat due to prolonged rainfall in the Solomon Islands, and the prime minister has denied accusations that he has started a verbal war that has just brought the Pacific island country closer to China.
Despite earlier warnings that China’s military base in Solomon Islands would be a “red line” and Defense Minister Peter Dathan announced that Australia was needed to prepare for war, the prime minister on Thursday insisted that peace was needed. ».
This came after the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Monaco Sogavar, made a tirade against Australia in his country’s parliament, saying there was a “warning of military intervention” and Solomon Islands a “threat of invasion”.
Australia has a longstanding relationship with the Solomon Islands and should be its main security partner.
After the country signed a security agreement with China, Mr Morrison warned that if a Chinese military base was established on the Pacific islands, it would become a “red line” for Australia and the US, but declined to say what that meant.
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Responding to his news conference in Sydney on Thursday, the prime minister denied that this was the case, arguing that Australia should be “calm and restrained”.
“No. What we need to be aware of is that we need to be calm and calm when we are dealing with these problems that arise. Prime Minister Sogawar has signed a secret agreement with the Chinese government, ”he said.
“He did it with a number of ministers in his cabinet. This came as no surprise to our government, and we are now simply working responsibly with our partners to manage this situation to first protect the security interests of Australia but also of the Solomon Islands. We are worried about Solomon. ”
Mr Morrison faced criticism from Labor after it emerged that he had not spoken to Mr Sogawar since the signing of the agreement, but he insisted he was “looking forward” to talks with the “Pacific family” if there will be such an opportunity.
“We are concerned about the Solomon Islands, greater security in the Southwest Pacific. Other leaders with whom I have been in regular contact are no less concerned, ”the Prime Minister said.
“If I have the opportunity, I look forward to meeting all the leaders of the Pacific so that we can talk to each other as a family about the risks it poses, not only in the Solomon Islands but throughout the Pacific. the ocean. “
Foreign policy experts have previously told The West Australian that the current politicization of Solomon Islands ’relations with China in the midst of the election campaign was useless and more about politicians trying to score points than anything else.
Some have also said they believe it is unlikely that a military base will be set up by China in the Solomon Islands at this time.
Asked on Thursday what he would do to restore relations, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said it was “difficult”, but criticized Mr Morrison for not speaking directly to Mr Sogavar.
“What we would do to rebuild the relationship is not easy. The fact that the Prime Minister did not pick up the phone to Prime Minister Sogawar speaks volumes about what is needed for this relationship, ”he said.
“We have outlined a comprehensive Pacific plan. We are talking about increasing assistance in the fight against climate change, including holding (the United Nations Conference of the Parties) together with the countries of the Pacific Islands.
“We are talking about people’s attitude to people, including parliamentary visits. We are talking about having a migration program that allows people from the Pacific to settle here. What they will do is make remittances back to Solomon and back to other Pacific islands. “