To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) offer to mediate in dispute between SI and Australia

Two senior regional civil servants from Melanesia have been sent on a special mission to mediate between Solomon Islands and Australia over the expulsion of Australian diplomat, Patrick Cole from Honiara.

Regional media has reported that the mission is being put together quickly ahead of next month’s annual summit of Pacific Leaders Forum in Fiji.

One of the two, Fiji's Isikeli Mataitoga says waiting until the Forum Leaders Meeting in late October will be an inadequate response.

He says the stand-off, if not resolved now, could have a negative impact on the agenda of the Leaders Meeting.

Mr Mataitoga, the chief executive officer in Fiji’s foreign office will be accompanied by his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Gabriel Pepson.

He says the mission will be undertaken in the next few days, and a report submitted to the leaders soon after.

Mr Mataitoga says they would also encourage further dialogue directly between Solomon Islands and Australia.

The diplomatic row between Australia and Solomon Islands resulted from the expulsion of Mr Cole who was blamed for political interference.


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