Asia-Pacific

Morrison receives warm welcome in Solomons as he pushes Pacific 'step up'

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Scott Morrison is promoting measures as part of the Pacific 'step up' during his visit to the Solomon Islands to strengthen ties.

Pablo Vinales reports from Honiara, Solomon Islands

Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has arrived in the Solomon Islands – his first trip overseas since being elected in the May 18 election.

Scott Morrison arrived in the island’s capital, Honiara, in the first visit from any Australian prime minister since 2008.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) is seen being greeted after arriving at Honiara International Airport.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) is seen being greeted after arriving at Honiara International Airport.
AAP

He was greeted by dignitaries and received a ceremonial welcome when he arrived at the Henderson International Airport with wife Jenny Morrison. 

Among the welcoming party were Solomon Islands Prime Minister, his wife Madam Emmy Sogavare and Foreign Affairs Minister Jeremiah Manele.

Newly elected Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will hold bilateral talks with his counterpart on Monday.

Solomon Island's relationship with Taiwan tested

The two leaders are likely are to discuss the increasing presence of China in the Pacific and the Solomon Island’s relations with Taiwan.

China doesn’t recognise Taiwan’s independence.

Mr Sogavare has indicated he would reconsider the country’s ties with Taiwan but his predecessor, Rick Houenipwela, said the current relationship should remain.

 

"It is in the long-term interests of Solomon Islands to maintain the status quo," said Mr Houenipwela.

"Where China has invested in some of these countries the investment actually is not an investment which is free, you end up with these countries with a whole lot of debt."

Mr Houenipwela - who will also meet with Scott Morrison - has welcomed the visit but said Australia needs to be more engaged with the Pacific.

Former Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Rick Houenipwela.
Former Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Rick Houenipwela.
SBS

Morrison spruiks Pacific 'step up'

Both Mr Morrison and Mr Sogavare are also likely to discuss the growing threat of climate change and Australia’s $2 billion dollar infrastructure investment bank as part of the Pacific ‘step up’.

Mr Morrison today committed to $2.7 million – over three years - to assist with Solomon Island workers getting employed in Australia when there are employment shortages.

The issue of climate change has been the cause of growing angst within the Pacific.

“We would like Australia to be better engaged in terms of addressing the environmental concerns,” said Mr Houenipwela.

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Mr Morrison is also accompanied by his newly appointed Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke.

The prime minister will head to the UK on Monday afternoon to join world leaders - including US President Donald Trump, outgoing UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – to commemorate the 75th D-Day Anniversary in Portsmouth.

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