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Monday, January 15, 2007

Solomon Government welcomes new Australian High Commissioner

By George Herming

The Solomon Islands government on Friday welcomed the appointment of Australian diplomat Peter Hooton to serve as Australia’s High Commissioner to Solomon Islands.

Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Patteson Oti welcomed the appointment describing it as a positive step in maintaining meaningful relations between the countries.

Mr Oti said the current government accepted the appointment in the spirit of goodwill.

“We see Mr Hooton's appointment as a positive step in maintaining meaningful relations between our two countries. We were pleased to accept his nomination late last year at the time our Solomon Islands high commissioner Victor Ngele arrived to take up his post in Canberra,” Mr Oti said.

Mr Oti said he hoped the announcement from Australia would mean Mr Ngele would now have an early opportunity to present his credentials to formally take up his position.

Mr Hooton a career public servant who joined Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1974 replaces former High Commissioner Patrick Cole.

Mr Cole, who was Australia's chief representative in Solomon Islands for three years, was expelled in September last year after being accused of meddling in internal politics.

Mr Oti’s Australian counterpart Alexander Downer told the Australia media his country remains committed to helping ordinary Solomon Islanders improve their lives.

“Australia's commitment to Solomon Islands is exemplified in its leadership (of RAMSI) ... which has made significant progress in helping the Solomon Islands address key challenges to law and order, growth and economic management,” Mr Downer said.

A date for Hooton to formally take up his appointment is yet to be announced.

Source: GCU

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