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Solomon Is., RAMSI & Forum Hold Successful Talks

Solomon Islands, RAMSI and Forum Hold Successful Consultations

The Solomon Islands Government, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and the Pacific Islands Forum yesterday held their third round of consultations on RAMSI.

Known as the Enhanced Consultative Mechanism (ECM) the talks were the first between the three parties since the election of the Sikua Government.

Opening the ECM, Solomon Islands Foreign Minister, the Honourable William Haomae, said the frank discussions possible by officials in past ECM's had allowed the Solomon Islands-RAMSI partnership to gain in strength and greater understanding.

"I wish to assure you that the CNURA (Coalition of National Unity and Rural Advancement) Government places high priority in dialogue and consultation to this partnership and it is only this that we will be able to resolve our differences amicably."

"The work of RAMSI in Solomon Islands is a partnership between the Government of Solomon Islands and its regional friends, through greater cooperation; we can achieve the desired goals for the benefit of the people of Solomon Islands," he said.

Senior officials representing the Solomon Islands Government, RAMSI and four other Forum members took part in the ECM Meeting held at the Honiara Hotel.

The Forum members included Australia and the past, present and future chairs of the Forum, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Niue respectively.

The meeting was also the first between the three parties since Pacific Islands Forum Leaders endorsed the recommendations of the RAMSI Review Taskforce Report during the Forum Leaders' meeting in Tonga last October.

Reporting on the Taskforce Report, a taskforce member, Kaliopate Tavola welcomed the decision to proceed with the taskforce's recommendation that a Forum Ministerial Standing Committee (FMSC) on RAMSI be established.

"This represents a major change in the governance and oversight mechanism of RAMSI," Mr Tavola said.

The Ministerial Committee consisting of the Foreign Ministers of Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Australia will hold its inaugural meeting in Honiara this Friday. The meeting will be chaired by the Tonga's Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister.

"The Taskforce is particularly happy on this occasion, for in two days time, we will witness the first ever meeting, here in Honiara, of the FMSC, "Mr Tavola said.

The ministerial committee will continue to be supported at the officials-level by the Enhanced Consultative Mechanism meetings and by the Triumvirate - a group also recommended by the Taskforce - comprising the Special Coordinator of RAMSI, the SIG Special Envoy to RAMSI and PIF Representative to the Solomon Islands.

Mr Tavola said that the Forum endorsement of the Taskforce Report while not legally binding on any of the parties did produce a moral obligation.

"Forum endorsement I believe did evoke a moral obligation in the interest of regional solidarity and credibility particularly as this report underscores greater regionalization of the governance of RAMSI.

"This is a major bonus to RAMSI and to the region; and I submit that it is most expedient to protect and defend it at all costs."

Mr Tavola said the Taskforce also welcomed the SIG's decision to proceed to renew RAMSI's mandate for a further year from July 2007 as provided for in the FIA (Facilitation of International Assistance) Act."

"On the question of legislative changes, (the Taskforce) welcomes the assurances given it by the SIG that any proposal to amend the FIA Act in order to enhance its effectiveness will be the subject of consultations with all contributing countries."

The meeting, chaired by Tonga's Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs Viliami Malolo, also discussed ways in which RAMSI can support the CNURA Government's policies and priorities and new briefing mechanisms between RAMSI and the Solomon Islands Cabinet.

SEE ALSO: Tavola Report to ECM

ENDS

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