2 May 2006

New Zealand's defence minister says he did not ignore Solomon Islands' caretaker PM

9:13 am on 2 May 2006

New Zealand's Minister of Defence, Phil Goff says there was no deliberate snub of the Solomon Islands' caretaker Prime Minister during his recent trip to the country.

Snyder Rini has expressed concern Mr Goff didn't come to see him last week in Honiara.

Mr Goff says the purpose of the trip was to examine the future of the regional assistance mission following the recent riots.

He says he met with two cabinet ministers and a group of opposition MPs.

"I had 24 hours on the ground - apart from the sleep time - I had every one of those hours up was taken up with appointments - we covered as much as ground as we could but priorities had to be set - and I needed to meet people appropriate to my own concerns of trade and of defence."

Phil Goff says he was disappointed to learn of an email, which revealed the Australian High Commissioner complained to a local businessman about Mr Rini's selection.

He says the countries that make up the regional assistance mission must remian neutral.