MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 3) - Solomon Islanders have been told that foreign troops are about to arrive in the country on a mission to bring peace, not to frighten locals.

Police Commissioner William Morrell told a peace summit in the capital, Honiara, that about 200 Australian, New Zealand and Pacific police would soon arrive in the country, accompanied by 2,000 military personnel.

Commissioner Morrell said the intervention would last about 18 months, but any economic recovery would take much longer.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation quotes the Commissioner as saying the operation will cover new crimes but his police force will continue to investigate old crimes, such as the murder of the former commissioner of police.

In the meantime, there is confusion in Solomon Islands over whether a weapons amnesty will be offered to help restore law and order.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza said his cabinet is considering a recommendation for a weapons amnesty based on a recommendation by a government-appointed taskforce on the proposed multi-national intervention force.

He revealed this during his speech to a three-day National Unity Summit hosted by the National Peace Council. Kemakeza said on cabinet endorsement, the recommendation will be taken to parliament in the upcoming July parliament sitting.

His revelation has caused confusion because the Morrell told the summit that amnesty is yet to be discussed.

July 3, 2003

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