AUSTRALIA MAY EXPAND PEACEKEEPING ROLE IN SOLOMONS

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CANBERRA, Australia (December 7, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Prime Minister John Howard has announced that Australia may expand its peacekeeping role in the Solomon Islands, pointing out that this was one of the things the government had in mind when putting together its latest Defense Department White Paper.

He said it is also one of the reasons why the Australian army’s capacity is being strengthened.

However, he said he doesn't see Australia becoming a regional policeman.

"I don't use the word policeman and I won't use it," he said.

"We have a role as a good neighbor, as a regional mate --I've used the expression -- which involves a bit of security work. . . in the past. . . with Timor. . . (and) now with Bougainville and the Solomon Islands," Mr. Howard said.

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

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