Australia and New Zealand’s Chiefs of Defence, General Angus Campbell and Air Marshal Kevin Short, visited Solomon Islands on Wednesday 29 January as part of their recent tour of the Pacific.
The Defence Force Chiefs met with the Honourable Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, to discuss Solomon Islands’ security priorities, including on the western border. They also met with the Honourable Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Anthony Veke, and the acting Police Commissioner, Mostyn Mangau.
General Campbell, who visited Honiara exactly one year ago, said he was delighted to travel to Solomon Islands for the second time during his tenure as Chief of the Australian Defence Force.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the government and people of Solomon Islands for their generous hospitality,” he said.
“I also thank Solomon Islanders for their prayers and fundraising efforts during the bushfire crisis in Australia. Support from our Pacific neighbours has been a great source of comfort for all Australians affected by the fires. “Our history and relationship are special, as reflected not just by the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Solomon Islands is now one of only a small group of nations with whom Australia has a formal bilateral security treaty.
“Within our neighbourhood, Solomon Islands is one of Australia’s closest partners. That is why one of our largest annual military exercises, Indo-Pacific Endeavour, will include Solomon Islands in 2020. Just as importantly, Australia, Solomon Islands and New Zealand are bound together in a trilateral partnership. We are working together for the kind of secure, peaceful and prosperous region we all want. We will always be ready to support Solomon Islands.”
Vice Marshal Short said he was thrilled to be back in Solomon Islands. “We are here to listen to what our partners tell us are their greatest security needs in our region. New Zealand values our friendship with Solomon Islands and we are here for the long-haul. We will continue to be a reliable partner to Solomon Islands.”
Australia and New Zealand have a long history of collaborating together in partnership with Solomon Islands. The Australian Defence Force and New Zealand Defence Force provided logistical and operations support to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and Solomon Islands Electoral Commission for last year’s election. In October they removed unexploded ordnance in Western Province under Operation Render Safe.