Wednesday, 23 January 2008 11:33 AM

Strained Relations on the Mend

Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Dr. Derek Sikua, and his delegation have arrived in Canberra, Australia's capital, as part of a three-nation tour.

The delegation, who left Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea yesterday, arrived to an "exceptional" welcome in Australia.

Reporting from Canberra, SIBC's Walter Nalangu said the Solomons delegation were air-lifted to Canberra in an Australian Air Force jet from Brisbane, a gesture that "not very many regional heads have been accorded".

Their visit has been made possible with the "goodwill gesture" from the Australian government in lifting the visa restrictions placed on Solomon Islands members of parliament September 2006.

Prime Minister Sikua will meet his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd, today.

Mr. Nalangu reported that today's meeting is aimed at mending relations between the two countries, strained in the recent past.

The meeting will give Prime Minister Sikua the opportunity to normalize the relationship.

Other issues expected to be discussed between the two leaders in the meeting will be the Julian Moti issue, a contributing factor to the strained relations.

"Dr. Sikua is also expected to acknowledge Australia's role in RAMSI and its continuing support to the mission and convey the current government's position on the review of the mission," Mr. Nalangu who is accompanying the delegation reports from Canberra.

The meeting is seen as "re-committing faith and trust that once existed between the two governments."

###TIME###