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Monday, July 21, 2008

Australia welcomes Japanese participation in RAMSI

Japanese troops may return to Guadalcanal. But this time, they would come entirely in peace.

As a result of the increased intimacy between Australia and Japan, both in strategic co-operation and aid co-ordination to the South Pacific, Japan has offered to send personnel to assist with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

In an interview with The Weekend Australian, Kevin Rudd hailed the Japan-Australia partnership.

"Japan is already a strong partner for Australia, not only in foreign policy but in development assistance in East Asia and the South Pacific," the Prime Minister said.

Mr Rudd said his Government was committed to increasing strategic co-operation between Australia and Japan.

On Thursday in the Solomon Islands, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith revealed that Japan had offered assistance to RAMSI. Mr Smith warmly welcomed Japan's assistance.

"From a general point of view, Australia very much encourages Japanese engagement in the Pacific," Mr Smith said.

"This is an example which in my view we're keen to encourage, provided we balance the regional architecture requirements of RAMSI itself."

Because RAMSI derives its legitimacy from the South Pacific Forum, as well as the Solomon Islands Government, the forum governments will need to approve Japanese participation. However, such approval is likely to be forthcoming.

It is not yet certain whether Japan would supply military or civilian personnel, although Tokyo is believed to be considering a small contingent from its Self-Defence Forces.

The initial Japanese contribution in terms of personnel would be very small. But the political movement it would represent would be substantial.

Source: The Weekend Australian

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