24 Oct 2006

Pacific Islands Forum opens today as Solomon Islands and Australia row continues

6:04 am on 24 October 2006

The New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark, has held a series of meetings in Fiji with other Pacific Island leaders as negotiations continue in an effort to resolve the row between Solomon Islands and Australia.

The tense relations are dominating the issues at the Pacific Islands Forum summit which is officially opened today by the Fiji prime minister, Laisenia Qarase.

Linda Skates reports from Nadi.

"The Australian prime minister, John Howard is delivering a simple message to the Forum - Australia is willing to keep funding millions of dollars in aid to the region but in return Pacific Island governments must improve their standards of governance. However, the Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, still upset about the raid on his office, says Australia needs to respect his country's sovereignty and Australia's dominance of the Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI, needs to end. Also being discussed is the 1st progress report on the Pacific Plan, the prospect of a package on labour mobility and a decision on whether the Forum secretary-general, Greg Urwin, will continue in the post for a second term."