SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, June 30) - A forum of 16 Pacific nations has agreed to intervene in the Solomon Islands to restore law and order to the troubled country.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff said the decision was unanimous at a meeting held today in Sydney.

"There was a need for us to give assistance to our neighbor and our fellow member of the forum," he said.

The delegation will consist of about 2,000 police and military personnel.

More than half of the delegates at the forum are committed to providing resources for the force, to be led by Australia and New Zealand.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said it is too early to say how long the force will stay in the Solomons or how much the exercise will cost, but admits it will be expensive.

His Opposition counterpart, Kevin Rudd, said other nations should share the burden.

"We think that it's appropriate that the Australian Government also approach other governments beyond the region, to assist in providing financial support," Mr Rudd said.

It is expected the peacekeeping force will be deployed next month.

July 1, 2003

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