SOLOMON ISLANDS GOVERNMENT TO DECIDE ON ARMS SHIPMENT

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (March 24, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Part of an arms shipment now being stored in Auckland, New Zealand for the Solomon Islands government may be used by the Solomon Islands police force.

The shipment was part of millions of dollars worth of military hardware bought by the former government of Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni for security purposes at the common border area with Papua New Guinea, near the formerly secessionist island of Bougainville.

The new government of Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu says it does not need the arms and requested the New Zealand and Australian governments, while the weapons were in shipment from the United States last year, to stop them from reaching the Solomon Islands.

Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs, Patteson Oti, says part of the Auckland consignment could be turned over to police force if the weapons are appropriate for normal security work.

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