Australia’s enduring commitment to Solomon Islands has been reaffirmed during a meeting in Honiara between Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands Affairs Richard Marles and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga.
“Prime Minister Lilo and I discussed the strength of the partnership between Australia and Solomon Islands to promote security and prosperity in Solomon Islands,” said Mr Marles.
“Solomon Islands is currently hosting over 20 countries and 2,500 performers for the Festival of Pacific Arts. The Prime Minister and I agreed that such an event would have been unimaginable even a few years ago.
“The Festival is a showcase for the Pacific, but also for the enormous progress that Solomon Islands has made since the conflict there ended in 2003 with the deployment of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
“Because of the enormous progress that has been made, Solomon Islands and Australia are discussing how RAMSI will transition to the next phase.
“Prime Minister Lilo and I discussed how the development assistance currently provided by RAMSI will shift to Australia and other donors. This will empower Solomon Islands and allow us to bring a longer term perspective to programs.
“Prime Minister Lilo also affirmed Solomon Islands’ strong support for Australia’s UN Security Council bid. We are pleased that Solomon Islands and other Pacific countries see Australia not just as neighbour, but as a good friend.
“Looking ahead, Prime Minister Lilo and I discussed how we could empower women in the Pacific. Australia and Solomon Islands are on the Board of UN Women. We want to work with other Pacific island countries to encourage more women into leadership positions, to ensure more economic opportunities for women and to tackle the blight of domestic violence.”
The Australian-led RAMSI was deployed in 2003, at the request of Solomon Islands, because of concerns Solomon Islands was a failing state. The current government has maintained Australia’s commitment to Solomon Islands. Australia will give $239.4 million in development assistance to Solomon Islands in 2012-2013.
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