Solomon Islands PM criticizes Australia over AUKUS
The PM revealed that he learned about Australia's security agreement with the UK and the US from the media.
The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare accused Australia of hypocrisy, saying that Canberra should have been more transparent with other Pacific nations when signing the AUKUS pact before accusing the new Honiara-Beijing security agreement of secrecy.
China and the Solomon Islands signed a framework agreement on security cooperation last week. The construction of a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will be a "red line" for Canberra and Washington.
On his account, Manasseh Sogavare told parliament, as cited by Australian broadcaster ABC News, that "one would expect that as a member of the Pacific family, Solomon Islands and members of the Pacific should have been consulted to ensure this AUKUS treaty is transparent since it will affect the Pacific family by allowing nuclear submarines in Pacific waters."
Sogavare stated that he learned about Australia's security agreement with the United Kingdom and the United States from the media.
"But, Mr. Speaker, I understand that Australia is a sovereign country that can enter into any treaty it wants, transparently or not. That is precisely what they did with AUKUS” Sogavare added.
He also criticized the "gaps" in a bilateral security treaty signed in 2017 between Honiara and Canberra. He stated that when Australia dispatched troops to the Solomon Islands last year to quell riots, they refused to protect Chinese infrastructure and investments.
The Australian government's refusal to acknowledge this, according to Sogavare, is "disappointing."
Last September, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom announced a new trilateral defense partnership. As AUKUS partners promised Canberra technology that would aid it to develop its own nuclear-powered submarines, Australia prioritized the trilateral deal over a $66 billion contract with France for 12 conventionally powered military submarines.