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PM and Defence Minister to visit Solomons

15 September 2003 Media Statement

PM and Defence Minister to visit Solomons

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Defence Minister Mark Burton will visit the Solomons next week.

The Prime Minister and Defence Minister will travel to the Solomons on a RNZAF Hercules taking supplies and personnel to Honiara. They leave next Monday and return to New Zealand on Wednesday.

Helen Clark said the trip will allow her and Mr Burton to observe the work being undertaken by the New Zealand police and defence personnel. She will also meet Solomons Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza and other leaders, and meet the leadership of the Regional Assistance Mission. With the Hercules travelling via Port Vila in Vanuatu, the Prime Minister will also meet with Vanuatu leaders.

“The Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands has been underway since late July and has made good progress in its efforts to restore the rule of law with the arrest of key figures like Harold Keke.

“This visit provides an opportunity for us to evaluate first-hand the good work that is being done by the New Zealanders and other nations involved in the Mission, and to discuss with the Solomon Island government what further assistance might be required.”

New Zealand has around 265 personnel attached to the Regional Assistance Mission comprising 35 police officers and 230 Defence Force personnel, The Defence Force contingent is made up of four helicopters and associated personnel, headquarters support staff, logistics, communications, an engineering element, an infantry company, and a small medical group.

The Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands has been underway since July following a request for assistance to restore law and order from the Solomon Islands government.

Over 2000 police, military and civilian personnel from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea are currently serving there. It has the support of the Pacific Island Forum, the Commonwealth, and the United Nations.


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