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Solomons Is PM Sikua Meets Kevin Rudd Today


Prime Minister Sikua Meets Kevin Rudd Today

Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua is meeting with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd in Canberra today.

Hon Sikua arrived in the Australian Capital Territory Tuesday afternoon after a one day visit on Monday this week to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

In Port Moresby on Monday, Prime Minister Sikua held talks with his PNG counterpart, Grand chief Sir Michael Somare, as well as some senior PNG ministers.

In Canberra today, Prime Minister Sikua will have a meeting with Mr Rudd.

This will be the first meeting between the two leaders since they both took control of their respective governments late last year.

The meeting between the two leaders today among others is aimed at mending relations with Australia and seeks better understanding between them through dialogue and consultation.

Relations between the two countries were strained in the recent past.

But Mr Sikua is expected to indicate to Mr Rudd that the new Solomon Islands government under his leadership values its relations with Australia and is firmly committed to normalizing that relationship.

It is expected the two leaders will, among others also touch on the Julian Moti issue, which had contributed to the strained relations.

Mr Sikua is also expected to acknowledge Australia’s role in RAMSI, and its continuing support to the mission, and convey the current government’s position on the review of the mission.

On Australia’s bilateral assistance to Solomon Islands, it is expected the Prime minister will convey gratitude and appreciation of the Solomon Islands government and people for Australia’s assistance in various sectors including health and medical services over the years.

Prime Minister Sikua will likely express Solomon Islands keen interest on the issue of labour mobility scheme because of its importance to Solomon Islands economic development.

The issue of fifth freedom rights for Solomon Airlines is another area that both leaders are likely to talk about.

It is understood that Solomon Islands government and the local airline company are keen to resume and conclude negotiations with Australian authorities on the Fifth Freedom Rights for Solomon Airlines to operate air services between Australia and Vanuatu.

Negotiations were started in 2006 but no agreement was concluded due to the stand off between Australia and Solomon Islands.

Talks are expected to also cover areas of health and education.

Although short, the meeting between the two prime ministers is likely to enable them re-commit the trust that once existed between the two governments and their people.

Similar issues are likely to emerge when Prime Minister Sikua meets his New Zealand counterpart Helen Clark in Auckland on Friday.

The Prime Minister and his delegation met on Tuesday night with Solomon Islands community and friends in Canberra.

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