22 Jan 2008

Solomons opposition critical of PM's fence-mending tour

4:32 am on 22 January 2008

The Solomon Islands opposition leader, Manasseh Sogavare, has described the prime minister Derek Sikua's so-called fence-mending trips to Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand as ill-conceived and hasty.

Dr Sikua says he will apologise to his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Sir Michael Somare, for Mr Sogavare's absence from the last Pacific Islands Forum and hold talks with his Australian and New Zealand counterparts.

But in a statement, Mr Sogavare says an apology to Sir Michael is unwarranted and Dr Sikua should instead discuss ways of improving the effectiveness of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

He says Dr Sikua and the MSG have been dormant and inactive due to the lack of seriousness by its members.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation reports Mr Sogavare as saying in the case of Australia, the prime minister should be careful as a relationship is a two-way affair.

He says Australia must be taught to respect Solomons laws and the sovereign rights of Pacific Island countries and stop interfering in their domestic politics