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Peace Monitors for Solomon Islands


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

6 November 2000

Peace Monitors for Solomon Islands


New Zealand will send a group of 14 peace monitors to participate in an International Peace Monitoring Team for the Solomon Islands, Foreign Minister Phil Goff announced today.

"The Townsville Peace Agreement of 15 October represents the best window of opportunity to end the conflict since fighting began two years ago," Mr Goff said.

"The team, which in the first instance will be an ANZAC team, will be deployed in two stages. An advance party, involving 6 New Zealanders, will be on the ground by 11 November. The main body of 47, including the other 8 New Zealanders, will be in place by early December.

"The role of the IPMT will be to support the indigenous Solomon Islands Peace Process under the aegis of the Peace Monitoring Council.

"Its main tasks will be to ensure that the weapons are handed over, to inspect the stored weapons regularly, to build confidence in the peace process, to monitor adherence to the peace process and report to the Peace Monitoring Council.

"The monitors will be neutral, unarmed, and deployed at the invitation of all the main parties to the ethnic tension.

"We have looked closely at the risk factors facing the team. The military risk has been assessed by the defence force as low. While the situation remains fragile, there has been a dramatic improvement on the ground, with road blocks removed, weapons no longer visible and people moving freely in and out of the capital. However, there will be a naval ship in the harbour as support if an emergency situation does develop.

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"The New Zealand contingent will be made up of one Ministry of Foreign Affairs officer, six New Zealand Police officers and seven Defence Force members.

"The Foreign Affairs official, Mr Chris Seed, will be Deputy Leader of the team. Police officers will perform monitoring and team leadership functions in team sites on Guadalcanal and Malaita. Defence Force members will contribute to support functions.

"It is anticipated at this stage that the IPMT will be engaged for up to a year. Other countries from the region will be invited to join the ANZAC team.

ENDS

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