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Friday, November 03, 2006

SI & Australia maintain dialogue to resolve row

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister, through his Press Secretary Deli Oso, has disputed the statement by the Opposition Spokesman Hon Milner Tozaka that the country has failed to resolve the diplomatic stand-off with Australia during the recent Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Fiji.

In a statement released from the Prime Minister's office, Ms Oso stated that people must understand that Pacific Islands Forum meetings unlike a bilateral meeting between two governments, prioritise discussions of issues of common interest to all its member countries.

She added that in an effort to resolve the diplomatic stand-off, the Solomon Islands government has made gestures of good will by keeping open its doors to Australian government officials to promote dialogue, deleting the two controversial Terms of Reference for the Commission of Inquiry despite having been cleared by the High Court. The government had also offered to facilitate the return of Julian Moti to face charges in Australia on the condition that the Solomon Islands Attorney General be granted some dignity to defend himself.

"Such efforts of diplomacy have been met by a tirade of accusations and misleading statements from the Australian government in an obvious attempt to impose their agenda. The Solomon Islands government cannot afford to revolve around non beneficial issues as such. It is in the best interest of Honiara and Canberra to get into an open dialogue in the spirit of neigbourly cooperation," said Oso.

"The issues of contention are not simple as they touch on the sovereignty of Solomon Islands and such an issue cannot be solved overnight if the Australian government continues to undermine the sovereignty of Solomon Islands."

"The government is aware that Solomon Islands was not included in the starting list for New Zealand Seasonal Workers Scheme and Australia’s Manpower Technical Institution for the pacific as other Pacific countries have been given priority but this does not mean Solomon Islands will not participate due to the current diplomatic stand-off with Canberra as claimed by the Opposition."

"Hence, the government is calling on the Opposition to stop misleading the public."

"Solomon Islands government appreciates assistance of its donor partners including Australia and New Zealand however aid assistance must not be allowed to be used as leverage by donors to exert their control over a sovereign state and its democratically elected government. Solomon Islands government will be seeking this understanding from its donor friends," alluded the PM's press secretary.

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