28 Aug 2006

Solomons responds to Australian military boost

6:20 pm on 28 August 2006

The Solomon Islands government says any military expansion by Australia in the Pacific should be preventative.

The foreign minister, Patteson Oti, made the comment after the Australian government announced a significant boost to its army and federal police force in the Asia-Pacific area.

Australia has announced it will put an extra 400 police on standby for deployment to international trouble spots and boost its military numbers by 2,600.

Prime Minister John Howard says Australia needs to maintain stability in the region, pointing to potential problems in PNG, Solomon Islands, East Timor and Vanuatu.

Mr Oti says Australia could have done more to prevent the looting and burning of China Town during the April riots.

And he says that unless there's an invasion, Pacific countries should be left to handle their problems internally.

"If we're going to address internal riots situations like what happened here I think that is best left to the individual countries to handle to build their capacity, I think it's more sustainable than to engage external forces."

Mr Oti says there've been riots in the past that were handled without Australian intervention.