Wednesday, 10 September 2008 4:48 PM

Australian Defense Minister Meets Dr. Sikua

The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua and the Minister for National Security, Police and Correctional Services, the Hon. Samuel Manetoali, in Honiara today to discuss Australia's contribution to RAMSI.

"Australia has an abiding interest in the security and stability of Solomon Islands and the region's collective resolve and firm commitment to RAMSI," said Mr. Fitzgibbon.

"I congratulate Prime Minister Sikua on his vision and commitment to strengthening the foundations for future development in Solomon Islands and his government's close cooperation with Australia and the region to restore stability and improve governance."

In discussions with Mr. Manetoali, Mr. Fitzgibbon underlined the marked improvement in the working relationship between the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF) and RAMSI.

Minister Fitzgibbon also visited Australian troops who make up the Combined Task Force security detachment for RAMSI. The ADF currently provides a company sized contribution to RAMSI, which includes 144 reservist soldiers largely from The Royal New South Wales Regiment.

"Our troops are doing excellent work in support of the law and order effort, being led by the Solomon Islands Police and the Participating Police Force," said Mr. Fitzgibbon.

"The security situation in the Solomon Islands remains stable and this is largely due to RAMSI's presence. While there is still work to be done, we are confident that the Solomon Islands are making progress towards managing their own internal security."

"Australia is committed to working with the Solomon Islands Government to continue to build capacity in this area."

The Minister said he was pleased with the contribution the ADF was making to RAMSI and that Australians should be proud of their soldiers, efforts to serve in this capacity away from their family and friends.

PRESS RELEASE