MILITANT GROUP IN SOLOMON ISLANDS CALLS FOR PEACE TALKS SOON

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (May 16, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Militant groups in the Solomon Islands have called for urgent peace talks, following the suspension of an order outlawing two militia groups.

The suspension follows pressure from provincial governments, the Commonwealth and diplomats, and paves the way for militant leaders to take part in comprehensive peace talks.

The military commander of the Isatabu Freedom Movement, Andrew Te'e, says peace talks are urgently required to stop any further bloodshed.

"I think if the government is not careful there may be lots of lives lost, because it is happening around Honiara now, and the government has to act quickly to stop this," Te‘e said.

"It's up to the government to think in the quickest possible way to arrange peace talks."

Following three deaths last week, the death toll from the ethnic conflict has risen to an estimated 60 persons.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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