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By George Herming

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 14) – Papua New Guinea army chief, Commodore Peter Ilau, reassured Solomon Islands Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza yesterday of PNG’s commitment to remain with the RAMSI [Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands] force in the Solomons.

Commodore Ilau was on a brief routine visit to Solomon Islands to be updated on the participation of PNG troops deployed in the country.

"I reassured the Prime Minister this morning that PNG remained fully committed to assist her Melanesian brother in joint efforts to restore law and order here," said Ilau.

He said he was pleased with the outcome of PNG’s military contribution to protect the Participating Police Force (PPF) in their policing duties in Solomon Islands.

Part of the visit was to see the welfare of the PNG troops under the new military arrangement that set a significant reduction of the military component of RAMSI.

Commodore Ilau flew over to Malu’u, North Malaita where he was briefed on the shooting incident between a wanted man and RAMSI military at Manakwai village in May.

PNG troops have been deployed at Malu’u since the arrival of the multi-national RAMSI peacekeeping force in the Solomons in 2003.

The army chief said he is certain the PNG will continue to increase its assistance to Solomon Islands in coming years.

A number of PNG based investors have established in Solomon Islands following the restoration of law and order in the last two years.

Commodore Ilau also paid a visit to the Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL) that was reopened by PNG’s New Britain Palm Oil after it was left abandoned during the crisis.

"I’m happy to see that PNG companies are utilising investment opportunities here in the Solomons," he said.

He acknowledged all RAMSI member countries for their cooperation with PNG troops in the mission.

Commodore Ilau also ruled out the rise of negative relations between PNG troops and Australian Forces following the recent Court ruling in PNG that sent home Australian Federal Police officers deployed in PNG under the Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP).

PNG has so far deployed 219 soldiers on the peacekeeping mission to Solomon Islands since RAMSI arrived in July 2003.

June 15, 2005

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