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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Discussions with Costello were very frank: PM Sogavare

By George Tausiria

Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare said he is thankful that Australian Treasurer, Peter Costello, is here for the Forum Economic Ministers’ Meeting, saying their discussions on matters of mutual interest were “very frank”.

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister told Mr Costello that Solomon Islands is committed to RAMSI, and that his government was renewing the agreement on RAMSI at the end this month.

Mr Sogavare also informed the visiting treasurer that concerns about the tentative appointments of two ministers whom the police had remanded in custody since the April riots have now been remedied and that those issues were now “matters behind us”.

Meanwhile ,Mr Costello said the Prime Minister had indicated to him how RAMSI had been important to the country, and that his country remains committed to RAMSI as a good friend and neighbour.

He said RAMSI had been a wonderful example of regional co-operation and that it was inconceivable that Australia’s personnel in RAMSI would advance Australian interests through the mission.

He said Australian aid to Solomon Islands is mainly in the area of economic and social security but in spite of this, the aid would mean nothing without law and order, hence Australia’s insistence on law and order as an important feature of RAMSI.

Asked if Australia would continue to extend its aid assistance in infrastructure such as road, Mr. Peter Costello said: “Australia will assist Solomon Islands not only on health, education and social infrastructure but as well as physical infrastructures in the country.

“Without law and order being addressed in Solomon Islands, nothing much could be done even if a lot of aid assistance is being directed to other developmental areas.”

He said one of Australia’s largest international commitment is the RAMSI programme.



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