10 Mar 2008

Australia pushes to host Forum summit in 2009

8:11 am on 10 March 2008

Next year's Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting could be hosted by Australia.

Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has told leaders in Solomon Islands that he is keen to advance a new Pacific policy.

Mr Rudd told an audience in Honiara, that he has won the support of both Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, and the Solomon Islands prime minister, Dr Derek Sikua:

"We think that is a good step forward for Australia in its new partnership of cooperation with the island states of the Pacific. It has been some 14 years since Australia hosted a Pacific Islands Forum and 2009 it will be 15 years."

Mr Rudd says it is overdue for Australia to host such an important meeting for his country's immediate region

The Prime Minister wound up a fence-mending visit to the Solomon Islands with an announcement of boosted aid funding and a commitment to the Australian-led RAMSI mission.

After talks with his Solomon Islands counterpart, Derek Sikua, he promised $13 million US dollars more aid for rural development, roads and rehabilitation work for areas hit by an 8.1 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in April last year.

Mr Sikua thanked Mr Rudd said the money would help his government's rural development policy.