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Monday, October 23, 2006

PNG and Vanuatu join hands to condemn raid on Solomons PM's Office

The leaders of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have strongly condemned an Australian police raid on the office of Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on friday last week.

The criticism is part of a statement issued in Nadi. Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Michael Somare, Vanuatu's Ham Lini and Mr Sogavare himself have signed the statement condemning the police raid on the Solomons' leader's office last Friday, which it described as provocative, uncalled for and unnecessary.

The leaders say Australian police violated the Solomon Islands' sovereignty and integrity and tainted the good image and credibility of the regional assistance mission, RAMSI. The Melanesian leaders plan to raise their objections when the Pacific Islands Forum meeting gets under way in Fiji tomorrow.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is on his way to the forum, and says the police raid is not his business.

"That's not a matter for me to comment on. That was conducted by a police officer employed by the Solomon Islands," he said.

"He happens to be an Australian but it doesn't alter the fact that he's answerable to the Solomon Islands Government.

"He had a good reputation in Australia and people tell me he's done a very good job."

Australia's relationship with the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea (PNG) has become increasingly strained over attempts to extradite Australian lawyer Julian Moti and the Solomons move to sack the Australian head of the Solomons Police Force, Shane Castles.

Source: ABC News

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