Wednesday, 16 May 2007 7:27 AM

Moti issue a diplomatic blunder: Australian academic

A Senior Research fellow with the Australia National University, Greg Fry, stated in an interview with radio New Zealand that the Moti issue has become a political blunder.

"Australia's sudden political interest in Mr Moti after all this time has greatly affected relations with PNG, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu" Fry said. "I really think in this case that Australia has made a terrible diplomatic blunder in using a legal matter for political purposes"

Greg Fry went on to say that the Solomon Islands prime minister's nomination of Mr Moti as Attorney General is a matter for the Solomon Islands to determine.

"The way the foreign minister came into this debate, it's going to take a while to come back, with the Papua New Guinea prime minister and the Solomon Islands prime minister" said Fry. "It probably will not be resolved with those people currently in power"

Mr Moti is wanted in Australia for a sex crime charge relating to his time in Vanuatu in 1997.

Last October, Mr Moti evaded extradition to Australia by flying from Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands on board a PNG Military plane. The Australian government is still seeking his extradition.