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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (December 30, 2001 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---The Malaita Shipping Company is now preparing its vessel, the Ramos Two, for long-term charter to Vanuatu’s Shefa Province.

The Ramos Two is getting a new coast of paint and other necessary maintenance before it leaves for Vanuatu.

In October, Malaita Province established a sister relationship with Shefa Province.

Premier David Oeta told SIBC that the new shipping service link will not only benefit the people of the two provinces, but the two Melanesian countries as a whole.

Mr. Oeta and Shefa Provincial Council President Jack Kalotiti concluded the relationship during a signing ceremony at Shefa’s headquarters in Port Vila.

The occasion was witnessed by Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei, government ministers, and chief representatives from Shefa Province.

Vanuatu's Internal Affairs Minister, Joe Natuman, acknowledged the long-standing relationship that Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have shared since their colonization by Great Britain.

Mr. Natuman said: "I think the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have continued to share a lot in common since then, culturally and socially.

"A lot of Ni-Vanuatu have studied in the Solomon Islands and many citizens of the two countries, too, have studied in the same universities. And I see this agreement as a cementing of that long standing relationship that we continue to share."

Mr. Natuman said while other areas of trade can be further developed in an exchange arrangement between the two provinces, he saw shipping as one that would be of great benefit. This would help not only the people of the two provinces, but the two Melanesian countries as a whole, he said.

On his part, Premier Oeta said his province saw the agreement with Shefa as a further step toward establishing a closer link with the people of Vanuatu.

He said even though Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group it was the provincial relationships that would enhance the spirit of true brotherhood among the people.

To seal the agreement, the two parties exchanged traditional gifts of mats, pigs and shell money by their chief representatives, and held a kava drinking ceremony.

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: 

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