AUSTRALIA MAKES EXPERT PERRY HEAD AVAILABLE TO SOLOMON ISLANDS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (January 8, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The Australian government is making one of its Pacific Islands experts -- Perry Head -- available to the Solomon Islands government for three months to help it implement ambitious reform policies.

The announcement was made as the Australian and New Zealand foreign ministers, Alexander Downer and Phil Goff, held their first meeting with the Solomon Islands Cabinet.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports:

"Australian diplomat Perry Head, whose term as high commissioner in Port Vila in neighboring Vanuatu has just ended, is to begin right away providing economic policy advice to the new government, which has taken over an economy wrecked by two years of ethnic conflict and which has an external debt greater than its gross domestic product.

"New Zealand's foreign minister, Phil Goff, says the Solomons can count on international goodwill if it's serious about reform: ‘I think if the right things are done in the Solomon Islands, the international community will come in behind, will give support, and that will give the Solomons a chance for a new start.’

"Mr. Goff and Mr. Downer continue their consultations here today.

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia, Honiara."

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

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