12 Aug 2003

Australia declines comment on negotiations with Solomons rebel leader Keke

5:26 am on 12 August 2003

The head of the Australian-led intervention force in Solomon Islands, Nick Warner, has held further negotiations with the Guadalcanal rebel leader, Harold Keke.

Mr Warner has declined to reveal details of his talks, describing them as a sensitive and operational issue.

Yesterday's meeting followed one late last week when Mr Warner said that six members of the Melanesian Brothers who were held hostage by Keke had died.

Mr Warner has also declined to say whether their reported death was discussed.

This comes amid a report by international news agencies quoting a source as saying that Keke's followers had killed the six hostages while other information on the internet quotes a contact of the Keke camp as saying the six have not been killed.