Thursday, 6 December 2007 5:42 PM

PM Wants Face-to-Face Dialogue to Resolve Strained Relationship

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is planning to invite his new Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd, and his Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific, Duncan Kerr, to Honiara for face-to-face dialogues to mend Honiara's strained relationship with Canberra.

Mr. Sogavare announced the intention at a reception the government hosted for the business houses in Honiara yesterday.

Prime Minister Sogavare said the government would be putting forward an official invitation for Mr. Rudd and Mr. Kerr to come into the country to discuss issues affecting Solomon Islands and Australia.

He said he would be meeting with Mr. Kerr first as Prime Minister Rudd had already been booked for a visit to East Timor at the invitation of the East Timorese Prime Minister and thus, had to wait until after the completion of that engagement.

"We want to meet face-to-face with Mr. Rudd and Mr. Kerr so we can discuss issues affecting our two countries, and I would like to see all the issues clouding our relationship to be dealt with as quickly as possible so we can move on with our lives, and get on with the business of development," Mr. Sogavare said.

Prime Minister Sogavare said the Solomon Islands government appreciated the appointment of Mr. Kerr as Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific.

He said Mr. Kerr's comments on the Canberra/Honiara relationship, as reported by the media, spoke well of him as a person who fully understood the feelings and thinking of the Solomon Islands government.