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Friday, February 16, 2007

Australian Prime Minister rebuffs Sogavare offer for face-to-face dialogue

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has rebuffed an offer to meet with his Solomon Islands counterpart, saying the two countries' foreign ministers should first attempt to repair damaged bilateral relations.

The Solomon Islands government has asked Australia to consider crisis talks between Mr Howard and Manasseh Sogavare to resolve a series of disputes that have badly damaged diplomatic relations.

But Mr Howard, in Wellington for talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, said there are other avenues that should be explored first.

A spokesman for Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer earlier said the government had noted the meeting request.

In the meantime, Canberra has urged the Solomon Islands to let Australia's new High Commissioner in Honiara, Peter Hooton, do his job.

Mr Sogavare has twice cancelled appointments with Mr Hooton to present his letter of introduction.

He remains unable to carry out his full duties.

Source: SIBC

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