SOLOMON ISLANDS PM SOGAVARE REITERATES COMMITMENT TO FRIENDSHIP WITH TAIWAN

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (November 3, 2000 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has reiterated, before Taiwan’s President, that the Solomon Islands government is committed to continued friendship with Taiwan.

Speaking at the presidential palace when he met President Shui-Bian Chen yesterday, Mr. Sogavare again apologized for recent misunderstandings between the two countries, and spoke of how Taiwan continued to assist the Solomon Islands at the height of the ethnic tension on Guadalcanal.

The Prime Minister said Taiwan's attitude in standing by the Solomon Islands during the darkest hours of the conflict meant that the Solomons won't let go of Taiwan.

He assured the President that Solomon Islands will fight for international justice for Taiwan, and the principles of democracy which the two countries have in common.

In response, President Shui-Bian Chen said he was personally moved by Mr. Sogavare's remarks, and wanted both countries to cherish their relationships, put any misunderstandings behind and look ahead together.

The President said the two countries would need to look forward in consolidating the financial ties between them.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese Vice Foreign Minister David Lee said a friend in need like the Solomon Islands is a friend indeed.

Mr. Lee made the statement while addressing guests who attended the official opening of the Solomon Islands Embassy in Taipei.

The Vice Foreign Minister, who visited Honiara two years a go, said since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the two countries have remained very close.

While acknowledging his country's condolences over the losses inflicted on the Solomons during the recent ethnic conflict, Mr. Lee said the two nations would stand together to fight any dangers against the future prosperity of the Solomon Islands.

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum has concluded a series of meetings with bilateral donors at the Post-Forum Dialog in Tarawa, Kiribati.

A statement says the leader of the delegation, Foreign Affairs Minister Danny Philip, was satisfied with the talks, adding he was pleased with the reception the group received from all the countries they met.

Mr. Philip was quoted as saying that he was particularly encouraged by the European Union representatives, who gave a positive indication that the EU would fund an extensive upgrading of Honiara's water supply system and the capital's sewerage system.

The Solomon Islands delegation was also believed to have updated bi-lateral donors on the Townsville Peace Agreement and progress in the peace process.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Philip also met, at the Post-Forum Dialog, with his Taiwanese counterpart, Tzu-Tan Wu, and ironed out misunderstandings over a planned meeting between them in Brisbane last month.

The meeting did not take place because Mr. Philip took off for Hong Kong an hour before the planned meeting and reportedly met with people connected with the Chinese government in Beijing.

Mr. Philip said he was pleased to have the opportunity to reconcile, adding his belief that relations between the two countries are now in strong form.

In other developments:

* Members of the International Peace Monitoring Team are expected in Honiara November 15.

Special Secretary to the Peace Monitoring Council, Nathaniel Supa, confirmed that 30 monitors, mostly Australians and New Zealanders, will be the first to be deployed.

Members of the team will be deployed in Honiara, rural Guadalcanal and Malaita.

Meanwhile, Mr. Supa confirmed that the Peace Monitoring Council has received arms from the commanders of both the Isatabu Freedom Movement and the Malaita Eagle Force.

Under the Townsville Peace Agreement, any former member of the militant groups in possession of arms 30 days after the execution of the Townsville Agreement will not be given amnesty.

* Senior Police officers in Honiara and provincial police commanders throughout the country are meeting in Honiara today to discuss, among other matters, the Townsville Peace Agreement.

Other things to be discussed include restructuring the police, senior officer appointments, reconciliation and community policing.

Provincial police commanders will report on the law and order situation in their provinces.

Commissioner of Police Morten Sireheti said this will be a chance for them to get together and discuss strategies, adding that they are members of the national police force and therefore must now extend their thinking outside of Honiara.

The one-day conference is made possible through funding assistance from the Australian government.

Mr. Sireheti said he appreciates Australia's continuing support in helping to rebuild the country's police.

* Members of the former Malaita Eagle Force have engaged in voluntary community services.

Earlier this week, the Tiger Unit cleared the road between Alligator Creek and Foxwood, East of Honiara.

Yesterday, the same group, assisted by members of the Crocodile Unit, cleaned the Guadalcanal provincial headquarters compound.

Officer in-charge of the cleanup at the Guadalcanal Province Headquarters, Philip Laura, said they took the initiative to show they truly want peace and are willing to offer any help.

He said the work is voluntary and they are willing to help companies or people who wanted to have their areas cleared.

Mr. Laura said, the group plans to do a clean-up from the King George the Sixth School area to White River.

More than fifty men are taking part.

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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