SOLOMON ISLANDS TAIWAN EMBASSY’S PHONES CUT OFF

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (November 1, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Phone and fax lines to the Solomon Islands embassy in Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan), have been disconnected because of unpaid bills, it has been revealed.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is expected to officially open the embassy today, although it was actually established in April of this year.

Acting Foreign Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Tione Bugotu, confirmed to SIBC News that his department has been unable to contact the embassy because of the disconnection of communication lines.

SIBC News further confirmed this yesterday when it rang the embassy in Taipei in an attempt to obtain information about the program for the Prime Minister's visit, but could not get through.

Mr. Bugotu said the Department of Foreign Affairs had attempted to get the Department of Finance to pay the outstanding bills but was unsuccessful because of the government’s current cash flow problems.

Mr. Bugotu said he was unable to reveal the total of the unpaid telephone and fax bills.

SIBC understands the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) funded the initial establishment of the Embassy and paid a certain amount of money towards its operational costs.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has arrived in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, for what Taiwan's Central News Agency said is "a fence-mending weeklong visit."

While there, Mr. Sogavare will meet with Taiwan's President, Chen Shui-bian, and call on his Taiwan counterpart, Chang Chun-hsiung, Foreign Minister Tien Hung-mao, and other government officials.

The Honorary General Consul of the Solomon Islands in Taiwan, Wang Chin Shih-ying, hosted a dinner party in Mr. Sogavare's honor.

Mr. Sogavare is scheduled to hold a press conference at the embassy to formally explain the purpose of his visit.

The Taipei-based news agency did not mention Mr. Sogavare's plan to request about $300million to help fund his government's commitment under the recently brokered Townsville Peace Agreement.

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: http://www.pinanius.org 

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