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Australia will provide the Solomon Islands with more than $17 million for the Pacific Games as a slate of US ministers and senior diplomats travel to the region to fight Chinese influence.

Pacific Minister Pat Conroy met Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to discuss the Sino-Solomon security pact signed earlier this year.

Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy.Credit:Joe Armao

The minister says he received assurances that Australia remained the island nation’s security partner of choice and that there would be no foreign military bases or persistent military presence in the Solomons.

“It was a very warm and friendly meeting and we discussed a range of issues. Our safety partnership was obviously part of that,” Conroy told reporters today in Honiara.

“The Prime Minister reiterated his assurance that Australia is the Solomon Islands’ security partner of choice, and the Solomon Islands government would come to Australia first if there were any gaps to fill.”

Liberal Senator James Paterson welcomed Honiara’s assurances that Australia remains the Solomons’ security partner of choice, but said Canberra needed to invest in democratic institutions in the Pacific to counter any clandestine action.

“We play by the rules and we’re not willing to do things that other countries are willing to do and that makes competing all over the world a challenge,” he said.

“It comes down to investing in these democratic institutions because at the end of the day, if the people of the Pacific are in control of their own destiny, I believe they will make the right choices in their own national interest.

“We don’t need to be authoritarian. We don’t need to dictate to them. We just have to support these institutions.

AAP

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