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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

PM plans to send Ministerial delegation to Canberra to sort diplomatic row

The Prime Minister plans to send a high level ministerial delegation to Australia to discuss differences with Canberra.
Prime Minister Sogavare [L] shakes hands with his Deputy Job Duddley Tausinga before flying off to New York today [source: SIBC]

Manasseh Sogavare was speaking before he left yesterday afternoon for New York to attend the 61st session of the UN General Assembly.

He says the delegation will leave after the sitting of Parliament next month and will include the deputy prime minister and the minister for foreign affairs.

Mr Sogavare says his government did not have any problems with the Australian High Commissioner, Patrick Cole, despite declaring him persona non grata.

"Patrick Cole is a faithful international public servant of Australia. I need to lift my hat to him. He carried out his work in Solomon islands well and truly. He served his country well. What ever he says in Solomon islands represents his country's view and in that regard he is doing his job to the fullest. The issue here is with Australia and the attitude of the Australian government."

Mr Sogavare says those issues must be sorted out before Australia sends in a replacement for Mr Cole.

In another related news, New Zealand’s foreign Minister Winston Peters says his country will not be mediating in the diplomatic row between Australia and Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister announced on Sunday that Mr Peters had offered to mediate in the diplomatic stand-off.

However, the New Zealand Herald reports Mr Peters told Mr Sogavare during a phone call that New Zealand regretted the differences between the two countries, but would not be getting involved.

Mr Peters says New Zealand is a serious partner and colleague of Australia in many parts of the world, including Solomon Islands.

He says it supports Australia's desire for good governance and future peace and security in the country.

He says New Zealand regards the expulsion of the Australian High Commissioner as very serious and hopes it can be resolved with Australia as soon as possible.

However, Mr Sogavare says he's surprised by Mr Peters' comments.

He says the offer to mediate in the current diplomatic row with Australia actually came from the New Zealand Foreign Minister.

"The suggestion appear to me, which is unfortunately denied by here, that he want to take on that role and I welcome it, and I says thank you very much for taking on that role and for assuring me that we will continue to dialogue."

Source: SIBC

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