25 Jul 2003

New Zealand/Australian Foreign Ministers assessing Solomon situation first hand

4:42 pm on 25 July 2003

The foreign ministers of Australia and New Zealand will next week visit Solomon Islands where an intervention force is restoring law and order.

The Australian-led force landed yesterday with police and soldiers and when at its full capacity of over 2,200 men and women, it will also include contributions from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu.

In a statement New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff said he would travel with his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer next Thursday, following a Pacific leaders meeting in French Polynesia with French President Jacques Chirac.

He says the two-day visit to Honiara will provide an opportunity to see how the strengthened assistance to Solomon Islands is shaping up in its early stages.

Mr Goff says the Ministers will meet with the Prime Minister Sir Allen Kemakeza, police and military personnel, and local NGOs and civil society representatives.