7 Jun 2003

New Zealand/Australia to keep some monitors on Bougainville after June 30

9:17 am on 7 June 2003

Australia and New Zealand are considering a small force to continue some of the work of the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group when it withdraws from the Papua New Guinea island on June 30th.

There have been a number of calls for the PMG to stay on, but New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff says after 2000 days on the island he thinks it has fulfilled its mandate.

But he says when the PMG goes it is important that there is not a security vacuum on the island.

"We are working with Australia at the moment on some Bougainville transition team that will take over some but not all responsibilities of PNG as part of the winding down process."

Mr Goff says the team will number about 15 compared with the 75 making up the PMG.

And the Minister says, in addition, New Zealand is looking at reactivating an aid project to train auxiliary community police.