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Tongan platoon welcomed back to Solomon Islands

OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL COORDINATOR

REGIONAL ASSISTANCE MISSION TO SOLOMON ISLANDS

MEDIA RELEASE Thursday 2nd November 2006


Tongan platoon welcomed back to Solomon Islands

Thirty two soldiers from the Kingdom of Tonga joined the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) this week. The Tongan platoon replaced a platoon from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force who have completed their rotation. The PNGDF contingent is expected to return to Port Moresby on 7 November on board an Australian Defence Force chartered aircraft.

In welcoming the Tongan platoon at RAMSI’s GBR base, RAMSI Special Coordinator James Batley said he was sure that their contribution would be greatly appreciated by Solomon Islanders.

Mr Batley said that RAMSI’s great strength was that it was an integrated mission, comprising 15 different countries and including military, police and civilian components.

“RAMSI is respected by ordinary Solomon Islanders” Mr Batley told the incoming platoon. “It is important for all RAMSI members to maintain that respect by keeping up a high standard of professionalism and good conduct.”

Military Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Quirk, said the Tongans would be part of the Combined Taskforce (RAMSI’s military contingent) for three months.

“Tonga’s contribution to the military component of RAMSI is very welcome. In fact, this is the fourth rotation of Tongan soldiers. They will support the work of the Participating Police Force and the Solomon Islands Police Force. It’s helpful that some members of this platoon have served here before.”

The Special Coordinator and the Military Commander both thanked the departing PNGDF platoon for their work, including their contribution to community outreach.

Five countries contribute to the RAMSI military contingent: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.


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