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Friday, June 15, 2007

SIG/RAMSI/Forum complete 2nd meeting of enhanched consultative mechanism

The Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) have agreed to continue dialogue on issues that impact on the operations of RAMSI including any review of the Facilitation of the International Assistance (FIA) Act which set up the Mission in 2003.

This was one of the key outcomes of the 2nd Meeting of the Enhanced Consultative Mechanism between Solomon Islands Government, RAMSI and the Pacific Islands Forum held in Honiara, Solomon Islands, today 14th June 2007.

The Solomon Islands delegation informed the meeting that the Government plans to debate amendments to the certain clauses of the FIA Act in the sitting of Parliament in July despite the current review being undertaken by the Forum appointed RAMSI Review Taskforce.

The meeting agreed both SIG and RAMSI should continue to have dialogue on issues concerning any amendments that the government is proposing to the Act and to impress upon the Government that any amendments to the Act should be delayed until after the report of the RAMSI Review Task Force is produced.

On Immigration and Visa Exemptions for RAMSI personnel, the meeting noted that considerable progress has been made since the issue was discussed at the first consultation meeting last February but urge the SIG and RAMSI to continue dialogue over some of the outstanding concerns that continue to arise on the issue.

Both sides also agreed to consider ways of improving the reporting process that exists on RAMSI activities to both the Solomon Islands Government and the rest of the Pacific Islands Forum members. And that there should be more exchange of information between RAMSI, SIG and the Forum.

“I am very pleased with the discussions on the various issues on the agenda of the meeting today as they were frank and both sides reached some concrete decisions on the way forward on some of the issues that were causing some concerns in the partnership,” Parai Tamei, Chair of the Meeting and Papua New Guinea High Commissioner to Solomon Islands said

“This enhanced consultative mechanism is proving to be very constructive in the partnership between SIG and RAMSI. This could only continue to improve with the appointment of the Special Envoy to RAMSI aimed at improving communication between SIG and RAMSI,” says John Roughan, Secretary to the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Leader of the Solomon Islands delegation to the meeting.

“RAMSI welcomes the exchanges during these consultations as they have been successful in moving forward outstanding issues of concern to both parties which if left unattended have the capacity to undermine the current strong partnership,” Tim George, Special Coordinator of RAMSI said.

Other agenda items discussed included updates from RAMSI on the Mission’s activities including Capacity Development, the draft Medium Term Strategy, and the Financial Management Support Programme. The meeting also received an update on the Forum RAMSI Review as well as briefings from the SIG Special Envoy to RAMSI, Mr Michael Maina and the newly appointed Forum Permanent Representative to Solomon Islands, Dr Lesi Korovavala. The meeting welcomed both appointments as a positive step forward.

The Pacific Islands Forum was represented at the meeting by senior officials from Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tonga.

Source: PIFS

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