30 Nov 2006

Solomon Islands foreign minister gets Australian visa

3:10 pm on 30 November 2006

The Solomon Islands Foreign Minister, Patteson Oti, is flying to Sydney to attend a Forum Foreign Minister's meeting tomorrow after being granted a visa by Australia.

Australia had imposed visa restrictions on all 50 members of parliament in reprisal over the Solomon Islands government expelling its High Commissioner, Patrick Cole, in August, for alleged meddling in local politics.

The row intensified when Australia pursued the suspended attorney-general, Julian Moti, over child sex allegations.

The permanent secretary for Foreign Affairs, Jeremiah Manele, says the granting of a visa to Mr Oti is a good sign.

Mr Manele says there is now ongoing dialogue between officials and the High Commissioner in Honiara.

"Basically, we were exchanging views on areas of disagreement that led to the current situation. I think there is already some understanding as to how we should progress in those areas. What I can say at this stage is the temperature for dialogue is coming around and we hope to reach a level where more dialogue will follow."

Mr Manele says they would like to take the dialogue between the countries to a higher level eventually.