Senior Australian Government officials met with Solomon Island Government Ministers and Permanent Secretaries this week to discuss the Solomon Islands-Australia Partnership for Development.

The talks, which took place on 22 and 23 September, focused on how Australia and Solomon Islands Government can work together to meet common challenges. This included how we can make faster progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the Solomon Islands Government' own development goals.

Australia and Solomon Islands agreed that the Partnership would focus on improving service delivery; increasing economic opportunities, particularly for young people and Solomon Islanders in rural areas; improving critical infrastructure such as roads, access to electricity and telecommunications; and addressing key economic and fiscal challenges.

Acting Australian High Commissioner, Ms Alison Duncan said the Partnership would complement the assistance Australia was providing through RAMSI.

"RAMSI's mandate is based on building the capacity of local authorities to maintain civil order, stabilising Government finances, promoting long-term economic recovery and rebuilding the machinery of Government", Ms Duncan said.

"But we recognise that Solomon Islands needs more than that - it needs roads, running water and electricity. So Australia's bilateral program works with key line Ministries to improve the delivery of services to Solomon Islanders, as well as undertaking infrastructure projects to assist people in rural areas."

Pacific Partnerships for Development are central to Australia's new engagement with the region, underscored by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's 6 March 2008 Port Moresby Declaration. The Partnerships commit Australia and its Pacific partners to make more rapid progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.