16 Dec 2002

Australia's Foreign Minister on trip to the Solomons and Vanuatu

7:10 am on 16 December 2002

Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, says his tour of the South Pacific this week demonstrates Australia's constant focus on the problems of the region.

Mr Downer will visit Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa and New Zealand.

He says Australia is concerned about the Solomons and Vanuatu needs help to work through a difficult period.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation says Mr Downer believes government of Solomon Islands still has to assert its authority over law and order.

Mr Downer says that progress has been slow despite substantial efforts being made by the Australian, New Zealand and others to try to improve the situation in the Solomons.