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Thursday, March 15, 2007

PM Sogavare criticises Australian travel advisory to Solomon Islands

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare describes Australia's travel advisory warning against travels to Solomon Islands as a politically motivated campaign to discredit the government.

Mr Sogavare says the wording of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel advisory statement had grossly misrepresented and exaggerated the situation in Honiara. He describes the statement as having used language more appropriate to war torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister's office says the statement had advised Australian nationals to stay clear of protests and large gatherings warning they could turn violent and directed at Australian interests.

The Prime Minister was quoted by his office as saying such campaign was designed to paint a picture of unrest in the country even to the extend of violence breaking out as result of dissatisfaction in the democratically elected government.

Mr Sogavare says the statement linking violence to the recent proposed motion of no confidence against government as false and misleading.

Meanwhile, the Australian High Commission in Honiara yesterday said media story about the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Travel Advisory for Solomon Islands appears to suggest the change of some significance.

An official from the High Commission says this is not the case. The official says the Department's Travel Advisories are re-issued routinely, whenever, often in this case, quite small changes are made to the text.

The official says the level of the advisory has not changed. The official adds Travel Advisories are not used to convey political messages, nor are they influenced by political considerations.

Source: SIBC

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