22 Dec 2003

Australian PM on brief visit to Solomons capital

4:23 pm on 22 December 2003

The Australian prime minister, John Howard, has paid a brief visit to the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara.

It has been his second visit since Australia led an intervention force to the Solomonsin July to improve law and order.

Bruce Edwards reports on what Mr Howard is doing.

"He went and visited troops who are based out at the airport - there are about 600 based out there. He met the army troops, he conveyed his Christmas greetings and then departed. He met the prime minister of Solomon Islands, Sir Allan Kemakeza, and held a brief press conference during which he said he was extremely pleased with how the intervention had gone so far, highlighted the fact that the size of the intervention force was necessary in order to send out the right signals early on, and without the numbers that they had he doesn't think that would have been so successful. He was asked why he was coming at this time and he said he felt it was important to visit the young men and women of Australia who are serving overseas at the moment ads it was essentially to wish them the best for Christmas and to take the opportunity to see how the mission has been progressing until now."