Solomon Islands and Australian officials are preparing a draft Solomon Islands-Australia Partnership for Development.

Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, His Excellency, Peter Hooton, revealed this in his address at last night's Australia Day celebrations at the Mendana Hotel in Honiara.

The signing of the Partnership by the two countries' respective Prime Ministers is expected to happen soon.

"The Partnership will be an unprecedented opportunity for Australia and Solomon Islands together to respond to the challenges you face."

Mr. Hooton adds that the Partnership is intended to help Solomon Islands make faster progress towards the UN Millennium Development Goals, notably in health and education.

"It will support Solomon Islands in its pursuit of sustainable economic growth, [and] help Solomon Islands undertake the economic and public sector reforms essential to protect the government revenues which pay for the services ordinary Solomon Islanders need."

The Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, in his 6 March 2008 Port Moresby Declaration, foreshadowed a new era in Australia's cooperation with Pacific island countries.

The Declaration made clear that this was an ambitious, substantive and genuine commitment from the Australian side to a new relationship of mutual respect, mutual responsibility and mutual commitment.

Prime Minister Rudd envisaged new bilateral Pacific Partnerships for Development as the centrepiece and touchstone of this renewed relationship.

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