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Thursday, September 14, 2006

SI MP's banned from Australia as a retaliation over diplomat explusion

Australia has retaliated over the expulsion of its High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Patrick Cole.

As of midnight last night no Solomon Islands MP would be given Australian Visas to travel to Australia.

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard also says Australia will review its bilateral relationship with the Solomon Islands.

The action was revealed after talks in Honiara yesterday afternoon between the Prime Minister and special envoys from Australia and New Zealand to discuss the growing diplomatic rift between Canberra and Honiara.

Mr Sogavare and the two envoys both refused to discuss the outcome of the meeting.

But the foreign minister Patteson Oti told journalists that Australia has moved to ban Solomon Islands MPs from passing through Australia. He also released a letter from Mr Howard to Mr Sogavare.

Mr Howard said the expulsion of Mr Cole was an unfriendly and unwarranted act.

He said it was all the more regrettable given the commitment of the Australian government and the people of Australia to assisting Solomon Islanders to recover from instability and the failure of institutions of governance.

Mr Howard said there would be consequences for Mr Sogavare and his government as a result of the action.

But Mr Oti says Solomon Islands will stand by its decision to expel Mr Cole.

Source: SIBC

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