SOLOMON ISLANDS OFFICIAL BOUGAINVILLE PEACE PROCESS OBSERVER

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (September 9, 1997 - PACNEWS)---The Solomon Islands will be an official observer during upcoming Bougainville peace talks.

Agreement was reached during meetings this week between new Solomon Islands Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu and his PNG counterpart, Bill Skate, in the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby.

During their talks, both Prime Ministers committed themselves to build on the progress made so far under the Burnham Declaration, which seeks, through negotiation, a peaceful resolution to the nine-year Bougainville insurrection. They agreed that the peace process on mineral-rich Bougainville Island must be approached through establishing definite time deadlines during which specific conditions must be met by all sides involved in the conflict.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Skate urged the Solomon Islands to quickly implement the Basic Border Agreement between the two neighboring Melanesian countries. Among other matters, the agreement calls on the Solomon Islands to arrest people illegally crossing the common Bougainville- Solomon Islands sea border.

Also during this week's Port Moresby discussions, Prime Minister Skate officially announced a PNG government's grant of $7.7 million for the Honiara Road Improvement Project. And Ulufa'alu confirmed the Solomon Islands government's support for PNG's candidate for the post of Secretary-General of the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, Noel Levi.

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