Thursday, 24 January 2008 1:40 PM

Rudd to Visit Solomon Islands

Australia's Prime Minister will visit Solomon Islands in March.

Kevin Rudd accepted an invitation from the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Dr. Derek Sikua, in a meeting held yesterday in Canberra.

Prime Minister Rudd said the meeting is "a welcome opportunity for the two countries to re-establish a close and cooperative relationship".

The prime ministers discussed Australian aid to Solomon Islands and how it could be best used to help Dr. Sikua achieve reforms in health, the public service and vocation training.

In a statement after the meeting, Mr. Rudd said more detailed discussions will take place between the two governments on the issues raised in the meeting.

The Australian Prime Minister added that his government looks forward to strengthening the relationship between the two countries and building "a prosperous and secure future for the people of Solomon Islands".

Meanwhile, Solomons Prime Minister Sikua described yesterday's meeting as "very fruitful and positive".

SIBC's Walter Nalangu, accompanying the delegation, reported Dr. Sikua as saying the visit by Australia's Prime Minister will be to discuss "matters of common interest with Solomon Islands".

Dr. Sikua adds that the bilateral relation between the two countries, at its lowest during the reign of the last government, has turned a new page.

"... the bilateral relation with Australia ... has been mended and Solomon Islands is now looking forward to a more cordial relationship after [the] meeting," the Prime Minister states.

The two prime ministers also discussed other matters including the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

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