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New High Commissioner To The Solomon Islands

2 July 2001

New Zealand's next High Commissioner to Solomon Islands would be career diplomat Heather Riddell, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said today.

She would take up her position at a difficult time in the history of Solomon Islands, he said. The country is experiencing its worst recession in 20 years.

"Even though the peace process brought an end to the fighting late last year, considerable tension remains and a large number of weapons remain unaccounted for.

"New Zealand has contributed substantially to the peace process through the International Peace Monitoring Team, which is jointly funded, staffed, and led by New Zealand and Australia, together with some Pacific Island input."

Mr Sutton said New Zealand had a long-standing relationship with Solomon Islands.

We also contributed to Solomon Islands development though assistance focussing on help in human resource development, small business, agriculture, environment, good governance, gender, and health, he said.

Following last year's coup, the focus is now on priority humanitarian needs and support for the peace process.

Ms Riddell joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1981. Her previous overseas postings have been to Geneva, Noumea and most recently Seoul, where she was Deputy Head of Mission from 1995 to 1998.

She is currently a Deputy Director in the Ministry's Development Co-operation Division managing New Zealand's Overseas Development Assistance programme in the Solomon Islands and other Pacific countries.

Ms Riddell takes up her new position in January, replacing Nick Hurley who returns to Wellington.

Ends


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