21 Feb 2008

Australia's Foreign Minister welcomes support of new Solomon Islands Government

9:27 am on 21 February 2008

Australia's Foreign Minister says his government appreciates the strong support of the new Solomon Islands Government on RAMSI.

Stephen Smith is travelling to Honiara today for the inaugural meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Standing Committee on the Regional Assistance Mission.

The Committee comprises Foreign Ministers of past, present and future chair countries of the Forum - Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Niue - as well as Foreign Ministers of Solomon Islands and Australia.

The meeting is expected to be an early endorsement of the new Solomons Government's commitment to RAMSI.

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Affairs, Duncan Kerr, who will accompany Minister Smith on the visit, says Solomon Islanders also appreciate RAMSI's role in rebuilding their nation.

He says RAMSI is nearing the end of the post-ethnic crisis consolidation stage.

"We can move into the next stage which is making sure that we get robust arrangements for strong capacity building, staring to assist the Solomon Islands government to be able to deliver more on the ground to its communities, and at the same time keep a reserve capacity to make sure things don't spin out of control."