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Australia’s minister for the Pacific is making an urgent pre-election dash to the Solomon Islands to discuss the country’s possible security agreement with China.

The trip by Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja comes weeks after it emerged the Solomon Islands government proposed a deal that would allow Chinese naval ships to be based there.

“My discussions will include the proposed Solomon Islands-China security agreement. The visit follows recent dialogue and visits between the Solomon Islands Government and Australian officials,” Mr Seselja said in a statement.

Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja will fly to Solomon Islands this week. (AAP)

“Direct engagement has been ongoing, including discussions between Foreign Minister Payne and Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Manele, as well as my own discussions with Pacific family partners in Brisbane over the weekend ahead of the Our Ocean Conference in Palau.

“Solomon Islands is a valued member of our Pacific family. We respect the right of Solomon Islands to make sovereign decisions about its national security.”

Mr Seselja emphasised in his statement the role of the Solomon Islands in meeting “the security needs” of the Pacific, including the geopolitical security of Australia.

“Our view remains that the Pacific family will continue to meet the security needs of our region,” he said.

Meanwhile, Australia’s top political leaders have gone head to head over the possibility of Beijing establishing a naval base in the Solomon Islands.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison played down fears over the international powerplay while Opposition leader Anthony Albanese questioned why Australia has not done more to stop the deal.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has previously said that Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had been clear China would not be allowed a military base in the Pacific nation, after news of a security pact between the two countries emerged.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. (AP)

Mr Morrison today backed that claim, saying it was not something Mr Sogavare “would allow to occur”.

“And we’re continuing to press on the issue of rotation, possible rotation of vessels or others, that might seek to go to Solomon Islands,” he said.

“That’s a serious issue that we’ll continue to press.”

Mr Albanese said Australia needed to strengthen its friendships in the Pacific.

“Why wasn’t a minister dispatched to the Solomons?” he said.

“Australia needs to step up, not just in a title, we need to step up in reality and develop those relationships with the Solomons and other nations in the Indo-Pacific.”

Mr Morrison said it was Australia’s position to respect its neighbours in the Pacific.

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“There was a long time when Australia used to treat the Pacific as an extension of own our country. They didn’t like it,” he said.

“They didn’t like being treated like that and nor should they.”

He said Australia remained Solomon Islands’ “first call” for security aid.

Defence Minister Marise Payne also pointed out that the Pacific region was becoming increasing important to the US, with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken conducting a recent tour of the region, including meeting with leaders in Fiji.

“The US is a strong supporter of the Pacific Island Forum and in that meeting, in Fiji, they also announced the establishment of a new embassy in (Solomon Islands capital) Honiara,” she said.

“I think that is walking the walk and talking the talk in terms of their engagement and investment in the region.”

Source: 9News

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