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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Solomons PM warned of aid removal dangers

By Steve Marshall in Honiara and staff reporters

The Solomon Islands Opposition Leader has warned his Prime Minister that removing the Australian-led aid package to the Solomons will destroy the country's peace.

Australia has threatened to impose conditions on aid to the Solomons.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard says Australia has every right to attach conditions to its aid.

"If you want Australian aid, you've got to reduce corruption," he said.

"If you want Australian aid, you've got to improve governance."

Solomons Opposition Leader Fred Fono says Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's threat to terminate the regional assistance mission, RAMSI, because of Australia's push to extradite wanted appointed Attorney-General Julian Moti, will have an adverse impact on the Solomon Islands.

Mr Fono says Moti must be so special to Mr Sogavare that the Prime Minister is prepared to allow the country to suffer for the Attorney-General's sake.

Australia wants to extradite Moti for alleged child sex offences.

Papua New Guinea's Acting Prime Minister has also called on the Solomon Islands Government to be cautious in taking any action that might derail RAMSI.

Don Polye says the long-term interest of the Solomon Islands is far more important than Moti.

He says Australia's decision to suspend visits by PNG politicians over Moti's escape from PNG territory is regrettable but understandable.

Mr Polye also says the likely cancellation by Australia of a ministerial forum between the two countries without consultation is unfortunate.

Source: ABC News

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