16 Feb 2007

Australia again links Pacific aid to better governance

4:56 pm on 16 February 2007

The Australian prime minister, John Howard, has again warned Solomon Islands and other Pacific nations that they must lift standards of governance if they want Canberra's help.

Mr Howard issued the warning after annual talks in Wellington with his New Zealand counterpart Helen Clark, which focussed on troubles Pacific nations.

Mr Howard again said countries like Australia expected something in return when they offered Pacific nations help.

He reinforced warnings he and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer made last year - that assistance as it is given to Solomon Islands came with conditions.

On the issue of Fiji, Miss Clark said she and Mr Howard were looking forward to the release of a report by an Eminent Persons Group from the Pacific Islands Forum.

She says the two countries hope that that report will establish a pathway ahead, which the Fiji government will be able to take seriously as a way through Fiji's current difficulties.