21 Jul 2003

Security improving in Solomons says Australian Minister

4:52 pm on 21 July 2003

The Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill says the security situation in Solomons Islands is improving ahead of the arrival of an Australian-led peacekeeping force.

The first of 2,000 Australian soldiers will leave Townsville for the Solomons today, as part of a multinational force which will seek to restore law and order in the troubled nation.

Mr Hill says the early signs are that law and order is improving in anticipation of the force.

Senator Hill said the Australian troops would be based in the Solomons' capital Honiara for the first part of the operation but would move to other parts of the country as required.

Senator Hill was hopeful Australian troops would be withdrawn from the Solomons in a few months.