25 Aug 2003

Australian Prime Minister visits Solomons

6:52 am on 25 August 2003

Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, will thank soldiers and police working in the Solomon Islands during a six hour visit today.

The trip will follow a second open day being held by the regional assistance force to showcase military and police capabilities following the expiry of a three-week gun amnesty last week.

Mr Howard has said the end of the amnesty brings the intervention force into a more dangerous era, as the force prepares to pursue gun owners.

The Australian leader will aslo hold talks with his Solomon Islands counterpart, Sir Allen Kemakeza.

The Australian warship, HMAS Manoora, will dock for the first time in the capital Honiara to put on a morning tea for Mr Howard.

The Australian Associated Press says it will also be the first time an Australian prime minister has visited the Solomons in more than a decade.