15 Oct 2007

Solomons boycotts Forum summit in Tonga

2:18 pm on 15 October 2007

Solomon Islands is boycotting the Pacific Islands Forum leaders' summit, which starts in Tonga tomorrow

The Solomons prime minster, Manasseh Sogavare, says his government has decided not to take part because it doesn't want controversy over the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission, or RAMSI, to overshadow other important matters on the agenda.

He says his government is insulted by what he calls Canberra's ongoing pressure on Forum members to oppose the Solomons over the issue.

In a letter to the prime minister of Tonga, he also accuses Australia and other foreign agents of running a misleading and insulting media campaign against his government.

Australia's foreign minister has accused Solomons politicians of trying to destroy RAMSI, while the Solomon Islands government says Canberra is hindering the country's efforts to reclaim its sovereignty and independence.

Mr Sogavare is currently in Taiwan.

Solomon Islands is sending its foreign minister and its planning minister to the post-forum dialogue which starts on Wednesday.

Australia will be represented at the Forum by the foreign minister, Alexander Downer.

The prime minister, John Howard, will stay in Australia as he has announced general elections to be held on November the 24th.