RAMSI's Special Coordinator has paid tribute to the hundreds of Tongans and Samoans who have helped rebuild Solomon Islands since the Regional Assistance Mission was first deployed in 2003.

Speaking on his return from visiting Tonga and Samoa, Mr Wilson said the two founding members of RAMSI had made outstanding contributions to the Mission over the past seven years.

"RAMSI's regional nature is its underlying strength and we value the participation of every Forum Island country", Mr Wilson said.

In the case of Samoa and Tonga, both countries have contributed police and civilian advisers while Tonga also provides soldiers to RAMSI's military contingent.

The Prime Minister of Tonga, Dr Feleti Sevele, told the Special Coordinator that his country was proud of its contribution to the important work RAMSI had been doing since 2003.

"Having been with RAMSI from the start, we are strongly committed to the Mission and to playing our part in its ongoing success", he said.

Tonga's contribution to RAMSI currently comprises a military platoon (34 men), 7 police and a senior civilian adviser, Linda Folaumoetu'I, who is the Chief Crown Counsel Adviser in the Attorney General's Chambers.

Samoa's Acting Prime Minister, Misa Telefoni, also confirmed his country's commitment to RAMSI and expressed his appreciation for the excellent work RAMSI was doing in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government and the Pacific Islands Forum.

"I congratulate you on the great job RAMSI is doing", the Acting Prime Minister told the Special Coordinator. "I know the work is not easy but the partnership between RAMSI and the Solomon Islands Government is making good progress", he added.
Over the past seven years, Samoa has contributed consistently to RAMSI's Participating Police Force and has also provided some civilian advisers.

Mr Wilson visited Tonga and Samoa from 21-25 June as part of a series of visits he has been making to RAMSI contributing countries since taking up the position of Special Coordinator 18 months ago.

Mr Wilson said he was delighted that both the Tongan and Samoan Governments expressed their strong support for the RAMSI photographic exhibition that will be launched at the Pacific Islands Forum in Vanuatu next month to mark the 10th anniversary of the Biketawa Declaration, under which RAMSI came about.

The exhibition will then visit other contributing countries and be used to help educate the region about the work of RAMSI's partnership with Solomon Islands.