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Visit by high-level mission to Solomon Islands.

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Media release Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer

9 August 2000 FA89

Visit by High-Level Mission to Solomon Islands

I am pleased to announce that the high level team of officials I sent to Solomon Islands over the weekend has been able to add further to Australia's support for the peace process. They held highly productive discussions with the Solomon Islands Government, provincial government and militant representatives, and non-government organisations. These talks revealed a deep commitment by all the leaders to the Ceasefire Agreement, signed on board the HMAS Tobruk on 3 August, and highlighted ways in which Australia could continue to support the peace process.

I am, however, deeply disturbed to hear that a man may have been shot and killed this morning near Honiara. I hope very much that this incident will not affect the Ceasefire Agreement.

The High Level Mission set out the Australian Government's readiness to provide extensive assistance to underpin the peace process, conditional upon the continuing commitment to peace by the local players. This assistance will include support for the newly formed Ministry of Peace and National Reconciliation and the Ceasefire Monitoring Committee; help with the restoration of the shattered national economy; and a range of projects designed to deliver the benefits of peace to communities, including through absorbing militant youth into gainful employment and community development. We have also told the Solomon Islands Government that we will help with the much-needed reform of the security sector, on condition that maintenance of law and order reverts to the rightful authority, the Royal Solomon Islands Police.

All of this assistance, however, can only be delivered if the ceasefire holds and further progress towards peace is achieved. If the process falters badly, there will be little that Australia or the international community more generally can do to help Solomon Islanders help themselves.

Media inquiries: James Baker (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890 Matt Francis (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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