Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and concerns about Beijing’s new security pact with the Solomon Islands during a meeting in Brussels.
Payne and Blinken are in Brussels for a meeting of NATO Foreign Affairs Ministers to discuss their international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
U.S. Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken and Payne, who met one-on-one, had affirmed their resolve to hold Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine.
“The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed joint efforts to hold the Russian Federation accountable for its unprovoked and unjust war against Ukraine as well as mutual efforts to provide security assistance to Ukraine,” Price said.
This includes holding “those responsible for horrific crimes in Ukraine to account,” Payne said on Twitter on April 7.
In addition to discussing the conflict in Europe, Payne and Blinken discussed issues closer to Australia, where Beijing has sought to expand its influence and military deployments in the Asia-Pacific via a new security pact with the Solomon Islands.
The controversial deal would see Beijing allowed to deploy Chinese troops and police in the Solomon Islands to quell unrest, as well as station naval vessels and weaponry within 1,700 kilometres (1,000 miles) of Australia’s east coast.
These moves are seen as a “direct threat to American and Australian attempts to foster small and independent democracies in the region,” said Anders Corr, a geopolitical risk analyst, in an op-ed for The Epoch Times titled “China Tries to Turn the Solomon Islands Into a Vassal State.”
“Were the CCP to insert military forces into the Solomons, it would be hard to dislodge them, even if public sentiment were against the PLA, as Beijing has a public history of bribes to politicians that barely scratches the surface, according to my source with knowledge of the matter,” Corr wrote.
At their meeting, Payne and Blinken discussed the developments and reiterated their “commitment to ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Price said.
It is understood that the AUKUS security pact between Australia, America, and Britain, which will see Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarine technology, will act as a deterrent in the region, with Price confirming that Payne and Blinken discussed its progress over the past six months.
“They also shared concerns about recent regional developments and ways to support countries in making open and transparent decisions about their own security and economic interests,” Price said.