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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (October 10, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Solomons Islands Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace, Allan Kemakeza, says he is confident that a peace agreement will be signed as a result of this week's talks in Australia.

He said he saw positive signs from both the Isatabu Freedom Movement and Malaita Eagle Force and their provincial governments.

He said: "I believe and hope that we will achieve the aims and goals of these peace talks, and that it is the peace agreement that both parties will sign. The indications so far have given me confidence, as I said, because of the interest of participation of both parties, the militants and the leaders of the two provincial governments".

Meanwhile, he appealed to Solomon Islanders for their moral support and prayers while the parties negotiate.

Deputy Prime Minister Kemakeza also urged militants who remain in the Solomon Islands to observe the Cease-fire Agreement and to ensure law and order for citizens of the country.

He added that everyone needs to cooperate in order to find a lasting end to the social unrest in the country.

(Background: A cease-fire in Solomon Islands follows ethnic conflict which engulfed Guadalcanal, the island on which the capital, Honiara, is located. Peace talks started aboard a New Zealand navy ship off Honiara, and are due to continue in Australia.

The ethnic conflict began when Guadalcanal militants tried to drive out settlers from another island, Malaita, claiming they dominated government and business and were taking over Guadalcanal land.

Honiara has been under the control of a joint operation of the Malaita Eagle Force militia and elements of the paramilitary police field force. The Guadalcanal countryside is largely under the control of Guadalcanal's Isatabu Freedom Movement militia.)

Thousands of people turned up at Munda to witness the departure of more than 40 Guadalcanal province and Isatabu Freedom Movement delegates to the peace talks in Australia.

Radio Hapi Lagun confirmed that delegates departed Munda aboard an Australian Hercules aircraft.

Commanders of the Isatabu Freedom Movement traveling to the talks include Joseph Sangu and George Gray.

But Radio Hapi Lagun said Harold Keke - the commander holding a Solomon Airlines Britten Norman Islander aircraft on Guadalcanal's Weather Coast – was not in the delegation.

There are several outstanding issues that the parties to the Peace Talks need to agree on, Malaita Eagle Force/Paramilitary Joint Operation spokesman Andrew Nori said before he left.

Mr. Nori added that there are some procedural matters that need to be put in place so that the parties to the talks do not repeat what had been done in the past.

He said the functions of the Co-Chairmen of the Cease-fire Monitoring Council will also be reconsidered in view of extending their role as mediators of any peace agreement.

Meanwhile, Mr Nori said many of the main issues towards finding a peaceful solution could have been agreed on even without going to Australia.

The Australian government is increasing its assistance to the Cease-fire Monitoring Council.

In a statement, Australian High Commissioner Dr. Martin Sharp said his government will be providing more than $80,000 a month to the Council.

He said this is in addition to assistance already provided by the Australian government to complement other areas of Australian support for peace in the country.

Honiara City Mayor Ronald Fugui said a peace agreement is important to both the capital and the Solomon Islands.

In an interview with SIBC before his departure for the Peace Talks, Mr. Fugui said Honiara City has gone through a lot more problems than other places in the country.

He assured Honiara residents, saying he is confident a peace agreement will be reached in Townsville.

He said there has been a drastic reduction in criminal activity in the past week, as police and the joint operation have been cracking down on criminal elements in the capital.

A strengthened joint operation between members of the police force and the Malaita Eagle Force is being put in place.

He said additional police officers are being deployed to the operation.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 



HONIARA, Solomon Islands (October 10, 2000 – ABC News)---A spokesman for the ethnic militia which controls Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, believes peace talks in Townsville in northeast Queensland today have a good chance of success.

Andrew Nori flew into Townsville yesterday heading the largest delegation, the Malaita Eagle Force.

Mr. Nori claimed the mood on the island of Guadalcanal was now right behind peace.

"We are here to talk about peace and to return to the Solomon Islands with a guarantee of peace, but most importantly to return the Solomon Islands to normalcy and ethnic co-existence," he said.

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer hosted a dinner for the 130 delegates last night, at which he stressed Australia's willingness to help find a peace deal.

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

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