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TOWNSVILLE, Australia (October 10, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Australia said Solomon Islands faces social and economic disintegration if this week's peace talks don't make progress.

The warning was issued by Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, who is in the north Queensland city of Townsville to host the start of a new round of peace negotiations.

Australian and New Zealand aircraft were used to fly Solomon Islands delegates to Townsville for the meeting.

Downer said despite the cease-fire signed in August, the Solomons continue to suffer damage from conflict and disorder.

"Solomon Islands is very much on the brink," said Downer in an interview with Pacific Beat. "Its economy has plunged. Its exports have largely disappeared. We are very anxious that this peace process can proceed successfully."

Downer said Australia is pleased to assist in the peace process, including being involved in a weapons buy-back program, expanding the cease-fire monitoring committee to include other countries, and reconstructing the Solomons’ economy.

"(The country) has come very close to falling apart," he said. "We are getting to the point where we are very worried about the future of the Solomon Islands."

Downer said although the talks are expected to continue until Friday, they could go longer.

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



TOWNSVILLE, Australia (October 12, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The ethnic militia from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands says it believes peace monitors from outside countries, including Australia, will be needed to help ensure that any peace agreement holds.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports that the Solomon Islands peace talks in Townsville enter their third day today.

"The spokesman for Guadalcanal's Isatabu Freedom Movement, Tarcisius Tara, says difficult issues such as how broad an amnesty should be granted to those involved in the ethnic war have yet to be resolved.

"Mr. Tara also says his side would like a neutral force deployed on the island, noting that ‘At some stage there will need to be some form of outside involvement given the fact that our police force, the internal judicial mechanisms, have collapsed in an extreme way. We will need assistance.’

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia."

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

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