16 Oct 2003

Australia considering troop withdrawls from Solomon Islands

11:09 am on 16 October 2003

Australia is considering a gradual withdrawal of its troops from Solomon Islands.

The foreign minister Alexander Downer says the Australian-led operation involving more than 2-thousand-200 police and troops has made significant headway in removing the key threats since they were sent there in July.

The operation includes about 1,500 Australian troops sent to protect police and other officials from Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific nations.

Mr Downer has told parliament that Australia can now consider the gradual drawdown of some military elements.

He says the operation has been successful, aided by the arrest of warlord Harold Keke.