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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sogavare agrees to receive credentials from Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands

By Deli Oso/PM Press Secretary

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will invite Australian High Commissioner Peter Hooton to present his letters of credentials at his earliest convenience, despite the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s refusal to apologise for his unprecedented open letter and television broadcasts to the people of Solomon Islands last month.

“Obviously the Australian Foreign Minister is not man enough to apologise for his deplorable and disrespectful action, which I personally find very disappointing. Especially when some of his senior former diplomats have gone public in their condemnation of his action, which I believe is tantamount to sedition.

“If Mr Downer still believes he was right in conducting that campaign against my democratically elected government, I must question whether he is a proper person to hold that high position in the Australian government.

“However, I am prepared to move on in the interests of repairing the relationship between our two countries, which I still believe can be achieved provided there is an atmosphere of goodwill and understanding of our sovereign rights – and how those rights should apply to the Australian-led RAMSI exercise.

“To that end, I will invite the Australian High Commissioner to present his credentials to me at his earliest convenience,” Mr Sogavare said.

The Prime Minister said, however, that would leave Mr Hooton in no doubt about his expected role as Australia’s chief diplomatic representative during his term of duty in Solomon Islands.

“I intend to convey my uncompromising view to Mr Hooton that neither I, nor my government, will tolerate any form of interference or unreasonable demands which violate or impinge on the policies or workings of the Solomon Islands government, for whatever reason.

“If Mr Hooton intends echoing the words and actions of his Foreign Minister of late, we obviously have a problem.

“We have been through this exercise before with Mr Hooton’s predecessor and while we don’t want to see a repeat of that situation, I reinforce my message to the present incumbent of zero tolerance against any undue interference or peddling of unwarranted Australian influence on the people of Solomon Island,” Mr Sogavare said.

Source: GCU

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