Thursday, 21 August 2008 1:20 PM

Prime Minister Sikua Meets with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Prime Minister Derek Sikua met with counterpart Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd prior to the Pacific Forum Leaders Meeting in Alofi, Niue.

During the bilateral meeting, both leaders discussed a number of issues including that of RAMSI, the Fiji Situation, and the Australian Labour Mobility Scheme pilot project, which does not include Solomon Islands.

Prior to leaving for Niue last week, Prime Minister Sikua had written to Prime Minister Rudd, expressing his disappointment at Solomon Islands exclusion from the pilot phase of the Australian labour mobility scheme for the Pacific.

However, during their meeting, Prime Minister Rudd explained why Solomon Islands and other Forum countries are excluded from the pilot phase of the project and assured Prime Minister Sikua that Solomon Islands will join the scheme at some stage.

Prime Minister Sikua also met with the Prime Ministers of Vanuatu and PNG, our MSG colleagues, to exchange views on a number of issues that are on the Forum agenda.

Prime Minister Sikua also met with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat and discussed a number of issues including the possibility of the Commonwealth Secretariat to provide Solomon Islands with a constitutional lawyer to look at the draft federal constitution.

Also included in the official opening ceremony was the marking of Niue's assumption of the Forum Chair, replacing Tonga, which was then followed by a Plenary Meeting later in the afternoon.

The Leaders will then have a retreat to deliberate and decide on the issues before them including the situation in Fiji, and the appointment of a new Forum Secretary General to replace the late Greg Urwin, who passed away recently.

In the retreat, Prime Minister Sikua will also inform his colleagues of the developments relating to the relationship between RAMSI and the Solomon Islands Government.

The Forum Leaders will conclude their meeting on Wednesday with the adoption of the 39th Forum Communique.