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By Colin Taimbari

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Aug. 5) - The
Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary's helicopter "Eye in the Sky'', could
be operating illegally in the Solomon Islands.

The helicopter, under the command of chief pilot Sam Onno, was
deployed to Gizo last Friday, accompanied by an engineer and two allegedly armed
members of the police special task force unit.

A Government spokesman said last night that the helicopter was
there to help Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare with his movements while he
attends the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting. 

"It's got nothing to do with the military operations on the
ground. They are there because the Prime Minister is there,'' said the

Under the Constitution, our police are not to be deployed on
overseas peacekeeping missions or to do police work unless the Constitution had
been amended.

That was the main reason why only soldiers from the PNG Defense
Force were deployed to Solomon Islands as part of the regional intervention
force under Operation Helpem Fren.

Sir Michael, who arrived in Honiara yesterday on a commercial
flight, had said last month that notice to amend the constitution to allow
police deployment in Solomon Islands had been published in the National Gazette
and Parliament would deal with the issue in the September session.

Police Commissioner Sam Inguba is accompanying Sir Michael.
Telephone calls to acting Commissioner Tom Kulunga were referred to deputy
commissioner (operations) Gari Baki. 

Mr Baki was however attending a funeral service at Bomana Police
College and could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, increased security, especially surveillance along the
borders of Pacific Island Countries, will be one of the top agendas of the MSG
summit, which begins on Thursday.

Sir Michael, who arrived at Honiara's Henderson International
Airport to a warm welcome from PNG citizens there and Solomon Islands Prime
Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza yesterday, Sir Michael said increased border
surveillance between the Solomon Islands and the PNG border near Bougainville
was an issue he would also push with other MSG leaders.

He said given the current law and order situation in the
Solomons, increased border surveillance between our two countries must be a

"Currently, the Australians and New Zealanders are manning
the border post and carrying out surveillance and I will take this opportunity
to discuss with the Solomons Prime Minister to increase both countries' presence
in the area," said Sir Michael. 

"If need be, then I will have to go back to Parliament and
get their blessing to send additional police and defense personal for the
surveillance exercise."

The Prime Minister said that the three-year ethnic unrest in
Solomon Islands effectively contributed to the current situation along the PNG

It has already been agreed in Parliament that PNG will
contribute 80 security personal to the peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands
and Parliament must give approval for another additional forces the be deployed
along the Solomons and PNG Border near Bougainville.

Other issues will include political developments in the Solomon
Islands, Bougainville and New Caledonia.

Regional trade issues such as progress on the Pacific Island
Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic
Relations (PACER); as well as WTO issues; and progress on the ACP-EU
negotiations for a new Economic Partnership Agreement would also be discussed.

Sir Michael said the meeting would also reaffirm their earlier
decision on the election of a new secretary-general of the South Pacific
Secretariat. The incumbent, PNG's Noel Levi's term will expire in December.

Sir Michael departs from the Solomons on August 8 for Auckland,
New Zealand, at the invitation of the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark for
a bilateral visit from 11-13 prior to attending the Pacific Island Forum Leaders
meeting from 14-15.

August 5, 2003

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