9 Feb 2007

Solomons PM objects to Downer letter

4:27 pm on 9 February 2007

The Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, says he is offended by Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, writing directly to the people of Solomon Islands.

This follows the publication of a letter by Mr Downer in the Solomons newspapers today.

In the letter, Mr Downer said obstacles were being placed in the path of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

He also warned against Solomons government plans to re-arm the nation's police against the wishes of most Solomon Islanders.

But Mr Sogavare has told parliament that Mr Downer's letter is undiplomatic.

He says the proper channel to communicate with the people of Solomon Islands is through the foreign ministry.

Mr Sogavare says the action of Mr Downer is proof that Australia is running a parallel government in Solomon Islands.

He says by writing the letter, Australia has failed to respect the sovereignty of Solomon Islands.