Solomon Islands and Vanuatu Senior Government Officials have successfully conducted the SI-Vanuatu Bilateral Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) at Rah Islands, Motavala, Torres and Banks Province, in Vanuatu from Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th May 2023.

Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, MFAET, Collin Beck, led the Solomon Islands delegation to the meeting whilst Mr Kalfau Kaloris, Vanuatu’s Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade led the Vanuatu delegation.

The SOM consisted of representatives of both SI-Vanuatu officials; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Ministry of Police, Immigration, Customs, Bio Security, Temotu Provincial Government represented by Hon Edward Daiwo MPA, Minister for Finance and Treasury and Torba Province represented by President Hon Salathiel Towai and his Director General of Torba Province.

During the meeting, both parties discussed overview of Motalava Treaty 2016, thematic areas on Immigration, Customs, Police, Bio Security, Torba and the Temotu Provincial Governments.

During the closing ceremony of the meeting, a plot of land at Sola was handed by the Torba Provincial Government in Vanuatu to Temotu Province for border trading and further develop in the future.

The SI Head of delegation and Temotu Provincial Government accepted the gift with exchange of life pig, foods, and red shell money.

The SOM outcomes recommended SOM Joint Border Committee to convene meeting in July 2023 in Lata, Temotu Province to reciprocate the Motalava SOM bilateral talks and to sign the basic border agreement.

Torba and Temotu Provinces share common borders of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in which the SOM border talks highlighted desired to open up border trading, people-to-people relationship, communication and transport including tourism.

Signing of basic border agreement in July 2023 will pave way forward for Torba and Temotu Provinces including SI-Vanuatu governments strengthening bilateral relationships, border trades, people-to-people relationships, border security cooperation, maritime security surveillance, air services, disaster responses, communication and transportation including infrastructure developments.

SOM was a framework established to operationalise the SI-Vanuatu Motalava Maritime Boundary Treaty 2016 signed by Solomon Islands and Republic of Vanuatu on the 07th October 2016 at Motavala, Rah Island in Torba Province, Vanuatu.

The Motalava Bilateral treaty 2016 has formed the basis for SI-Vanuatu SOM to meet and discussed common border developments for the Torba and Temotu Provinces.

Source: GCU