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Te Kaha to Solomons

The New Zealand frigate Te Kaha will be deployed to the Solomon Islands to serve as a venue for peace talks, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

"The Solomon Islands government has asked for a secure, neutral venue for initial peace talks and this is a tangible way New Zealand can help," Helen Clark and Phil Goff said.

"New Zealand's positive response to this request is in line with the government's strong belief that keeping the peace in our region and internationally must be a top priority for the New Zealand Defence Force.

"As the government's defence policy framework stated, this role extends beyond the provision of military support. It also includes assisting peace processes through diplomacy and mediation.

"The Te Kaha is expected to arrive in the Solomons in 10 days time and will stay for at least two weeks.

"The situation in the Solomons remains volatile. According to the latest information we have received the ceasefire between the fighting groups in the Solomons is fragile.

"A breach of the ceasefire on 8 August which resulted in the death of a Malaita Eagle force member has increased the challenges faced by the local Ceasefire Monitoring Council.

"Talks leading to the ceasefire took place on the Australian vessel Tobruk. There is an opportunity now to build on that momentum and to help work towards a lasting solution to this conflict," Helen Clark and Phil Goff said.

ENDS

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