19 Feb 2010

New Zealand focus on Solomons' economic growth when RAMSI work complete

2:18 pm on 19 February 2010

The New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, says when the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands is wound down, it will be vital for New Zealand to help grow the country's economy.

Currently New Zealand's main aid focus there is basic education but Mr McCully, who has been in the Solomons' this week, also wants a strong emphasis on helping build the economic base.

He has asked tourism operators in Munda in Western Province what help they need and signed a new fisheries agreement with the Solomons' Government.

Mr McCully says this doesn't necessarily mean more aid for the Solomons' but a reconfiguration once RAMSI is drawn down.

"If we don't move seamlessly through from that focus on security to one on economic opportunity and employment opportunity, then we may find that all the good work that New Zealand and Australia and the other Pacific nations have done here gets unravelled, and, just because things do get stable at a particular point there is no reason for us just to pack up and go home, it means we will have a different role."