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Friday, May 26, 2006

Solomons PM happy with RAMSI troop withdrawal

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says his Government is comfortable with Australia's decision to withdraw most of its troops from the Pacific Island nation.

Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said on Wednesday about 260 of its 400 troops would be brought home.

Most were deployed last month to quell rioting that broke out in the capital, Honiara, when Snyder Rini was elected prime minister.

"They came here in response to a situation, that situation is over, there is no longer a need to stay," Mr Sogavare said.

Mr Sogavare was elected after the rioting forced Mr Rini to step down eight days after he was elected.

Australia has had a military and police presence in the Solomon Islands since July 2003 when an Australian-led intervention force arrived to end five years of civil unrest.

The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) remains in the country, ensuring security and rebuilding government institutions.

"The decision to withdraw troops was based on an independent RAMSI assessment of the country situation," Mr Sogavare said

Mr Sogavare has said he supports RAMSI's mission, but that it should have a clear exit strategy so the Solomon Islands Government can resume full sovereignty.

Source: ABC News Online (


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