Wednesday, 16 July 2008 9:19 AM

Australia Foreign Affairs Minister to Visit Solomons

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Stephen Smith MP will arrive in Solomon Islands today.

Mr. Smith in a statement said that the 16th - 17th July visit will be to attend the second meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Standing Committee on the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

The Forum Ministerial Standing Committee (FMSC) comprises the Foreign Ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum troika of past, present and future chairs of the Forum - Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Niue - as well as the Foreign Ministers of Solomon Islands and Australia.

The FMSC was established to help ensure a greater degree of regional coordination and oversight of RAMSI's operations.

Mr. Smith attended the inaugural meeting of the FMSC in Honiara on 22 February.

The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister describes the meeting as a mark of "the beginning of a new, forward-looking partnership between RAMSI and the Solomon Islands."

At the meeting, the Committee underlined the importance of consultation between the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI in formulating jointly agreed development strategies, and endorsed the proposal to jointly develop a Solomon Islands Government - RAMSI Partnership Framework.

The Framework will develop agreed timelines to reduce RAMSI's engagement in critical areas of government as the capacity of the Solomon Islands Government continues to grow.

At the forthcoming meeting of the FMSC on 17 July, the Committee will discuss progress on the Partnership Framework proposal and other elements of the cooperative relationship between RAMSI, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Solomon Islands Government.

"I look forward to my second visit to Solomon Islands as Foreign Minister and to continuing a productive, practical and positive regional dialogue on RAMSI," Mr. Smith said.