Solomon Islands and Australia have inked an initial deal for an undersea internet cable between the two countries.

The Solomon Islands prime minister Rick Hou was in Canberra yesterday to sign up to the first stage of a multi million dollar contract.

Australia is paying for about two thirds of the project and has announced it will also help fund the construction of a domestic cable network linking remote provinces to the capital Honiara.

Money has been allocated in the Budget, but is being kept under wraps before the project is put out to tender.

A $US1.5 million scoping study by the Sydney company Vocus has been completed.

The agreement follows Australia’s concerns about the Chinese firm Huawei building the link.

Mr Hou would not be drawn on security issues yesterday in Canberra, saying his nation chose Australia because it offered the best deal.

But last week in New Zealand he said Australia had raised some concerns with his country which was the trigger to change from Huawei.

Yesterday Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop would not say what security concerns Australia raised with the Solomon Islands about the project. RNZ Pacific