4 Jul 2006

Australia says disagreement over whales won't affect relationship with Solomon Islands

7:37 pm on 4 July 2006

The Australian Government says it respects the right of Solomon Islands to choose to back Japan as it did during the recent International Whaling

Commission meeting in St Kitts and Nevis.

The Australian Treasurer Peter Costello, in Honiara for the Pacific Regional Economic Minister's meeting, says the vote which has brought the prospect of a return to commercial whaling closer, will not affect the cordial relations between the two countries.

He told the news agency Pacnews that Canberra respects Solomon Islands as an independent sovereign country and it will respect the decisions made by the Government in Honiara.

Mr Costello says in the grand scheme of things whaling is not the biggest issue.

He says the Regional Assistance Mission, governance, and law and order are much more important.