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Visit To Solomon Islands

MEDIA RELEASE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS THE HON KATHY SULLIVAN MP

AA 33 11 July 1999

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Kathy Sullivan MP, visited Solomon Islands from 9-11 July 1999 for consultations with the Solomon Islands Government on the ways in which Australia might assist further in the areas of law and order, national security, and humanitarian relief.

The Australian Government has been following with concern the escalation of ethnic tension in Guadalcanal. Mrs Sullivan's visit provided an opportunity to reaffirm Australia's strong friendship and support for Solomon Islands and our commitment to assisting the Solomon Islands Government in its attempts to resolve the problems on Guadalcanal.

Mrs Sullivan met with Prime Minister Ulufa'alu and key members of Cabinet who provided her with an up-to-date assessment of the situation and priority areas for Australian assistance.

"We understand that the Strategic Review of the Royal Solomon Islands Police has been endorsed, and are pleased that Australia was able to support both the Review and the Implementation Plan. The Plan sets a framework for institutional reform and capacity building in the law and order sector. Australia has offered to assist in the implementation of the Strategic Review in a number of key areas," Mrs Sullivan said.

Australia has already provided a range of logistic equipment to the Royal Solomon Islands Police to assist them in dealing with the situation. Minister for National Planning and Development Hon Fred Fono accompanied Mrs Sullivan on a visit to Malaita province where she met with Premier Oeta, members of the Malaitian Emergency Rehabilitation Initiative, and Provincial Health Director Dr Kure.

"I was struck by the sight of large numbers of Malaitans in the streets of Auki. As they return to their villages, the need for food and shelter will be great."

"We have already provided emergency relief assistance to the Solomon Islands Red Cross to assist displaced people to return to Malaita. We will now look at ways to assist Malaitans with essential food, shelter, education and medical supplies," Mrs Sullivan said.

During her visit, Mrs Sullivan was impressed by the Solomon Islands Government's resolve to continue with its Policy and Structural Reform Program despite the additional pressures created by the current difficult situation.

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