Tuesday, 17 November 2009 2:48 PM

Israeli Official Visits Solomon Islands Seeking Answers

An Israeli foreign ministry official is arriving in Honiara to seek an explanation as to why Solomon Islands became the only country in Oceania to vote at the UN for the Goldstone report condemning Israel's assault on Gaza.

Solomon Islands' Foreign Minister William Haomae a year ago flew to Iran, following a meeting at the UN in New York with counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki, to explore the prospect of formalizing diplomatic relations, and of benefiting from Iranian aid.

The Australian newspaper reports that Prime Minister Derek Sikua also held talks with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when both were attending the UN General Assembly in September last year.

The paper quotes Mr Haomae as saying that Iran may be able to assist the Solomon Islands in dam construction and training for the oil and gas industries.

The foreign ministry issued a statement saying that "as a peace-loving state, Solomon Islands has adopted a foreign policy of `friends to all, enemies to none".

The Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Palau joined Australia in opposing the Goldstone report into Israel's January assault on Hamas.

Fiji, PNG, Samoa and Tonga joined New Zealand in abstaining. Only the Solomon Islands voted in favour.

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By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province