6 Jun 2003

New Zealand could send armed force to Solomons to help restore law and order

4:31 pm on 6 June 2003

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Phil Goff says it may be necessary to send an armed force to Solomon Islands to restore law and order there.

Mr Goff's suggestion comes after Australia announced plans for an Australasian team to go to Honiara to make a full assessment of the security and economic state of the country.

That decision followed a crisis meeting in Canberra yesterday between Prime Minister John Howard and a Solomons delegation led by Prime Minister Sir Allen Kemakeza.

Mr Goff and Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer both say it is too early to say what additional help aid donors might provide to overcome the lawlessness, but he says armed intervention is possible.

"clearly we need to be sure that when we put our police officer in the line of duty they are not subject to unacceptable risks, that may mean the need for armed police or even some military presence"