17 Jan 2008

Australia and Solomons to re-focus on mutual respect in partnership

4:26 pm on 17 January 2008

Australia's parliamentary secretary for Pacific affairs, Duncan Kerr, has welcomed the opportunity for a fresh start in relations with Solomon Islands.

Mr Kerr has met the Solomons High Commissioner Victor Ngele and discussed the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

The meeting comes ahead of a three-day visit to Australia by the new Solomons Prime Minister Derek Sikua.

Dr Sikua became prime minister last month following the parliamentary ousting of his predecessor Manasseh Sogavare who accused RAMSI of pursuing an Australian agenda.

The Solomons has reiterated its support for RAMSI but wants to play a bigger role in the operation.

Mr Kerr says the new Australian government knows that fences need to be mended between the two countries...

"So that clearly people do see the work we do within the region as one which respects common interests and we do want to make certain that we are seen as a good neighbour and working an effective partnership in those areas where common objectives can be achieved."

Duncan Kerr