Sogavare says security deal with China finalized

“We know our limits and we will do nothing that would cause unnecessary discomfort to our partners in the region and as a member of the forum,” Sogavare said.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the draft security agreement with China that was leaked on social media has been finalized.

He says the signing process will be facilitated by the Foreign Ministry and senior officials from both sides.

Prime Minister Sogavare confirmed the arrangement during his speech to Parliament today. He says since the leak he has texted the Australian Prime Minister and sent a letter this morning explaining his government’s intentions. He said he also had conversations with the Prime Minister of PNG and the Prime Minister of Fiji.

He says Solomon Islands’ security arrangements with Australia remain intact and our traditional security partners are still important to the country.

“But moving forward, it’s clear that we need to diversify our relationships with other partners, and what’s wrong with that?” said Sogavare.

“We find it insulting to be called unfit to manage our sovereign affairs, and that we have other motives in pursuing our national interests.”

The prime minister also dismissed media reports that the security deal will serve as a gateway for China to establish a military base in the Solomon Islands.

“We know our limits and we will do nothing that would cause unnecessary discomfort to our partners in the region and as a member of the forum,” Sogavare said.

He insists that the security and development challenges facing the country are such that the country must diversify its partnership with all bilateral friends.

MP for West Are’are, John Mane, reminded the Government that with regard to its policy of friends of all and enemies of no one, and in what now appears to be a serious effort to diversify our bilateral partnerships in security, friends in the region worry.

Opposition leader Mathew Wale previously raised concerns that the security deal being pursued by the Sogavare-led government with China would create force projection issues, particularly if it covers large military deployments and shore installations.

“These are no small stakes and in today’s geopolitical competition, the Solomon Islands would do well not to be the playing field for these great powers.”

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