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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Australia disappointed over Oti's statement

The Acting Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Heidi Bootle has expressed disappointment at comments made by the Solomon Islands Foreign Minister regarding Australia's involvement in RAMSI.

Ms Bootle in a statement yesterday says she was disappointed at the criticism, noting that Australia has only ever been committed to assisting the Solomon Islands. She says Australia was invited by the Solomon Islands Government in 2003 to lead a regional assistance mission to help get the Solomon Islands back on its feet.

Ms Bootle says Australia makes a significant financial contribution to enable participation in RAMSI by Pacific islands police and military. She says Australia's decision to withdraw funding to Fiji's military participation in RAMSI was entirely consistent with the regional response to the military coup in Fiji.

The Acting High Commissioner said Australia informed the Solomon Islands Government, it's regional partners and the Forum Secretariat of the decision.

Ms Bootle says she had met Solomon Islands Foreign Minister, Patteson Oti, December 13th and outlined to him Australia's decision. She says Australia has not taken a unilateral decision to remove Fiji from RAMSI.

She adds, Australia has outlined to it's RAMSI partners, including the Solomon Islands Government, that it is Australia's firm view that continued Fiji military participation in RAMSI is not appropriate in light of the military coup.

Ms Bootle however says, a decision on Fiji's participation is one for the Pacific Islands Forum.

She says Australia welcomed the Forum Secretariat's action in writing to Forum member counties to seek their views.

The acting High Commissioner says Australia continues to support Fiji's strong contribution to other elements of RAMSI.

Source: SIBC

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