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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, June 1) – The Government of Solomon Islands has given approval for Papua New Guinea airlines to use Honiara as the transit point to fly to other Pacific Island countries.

Solomon Island Foreign Minister Patteson Oti said yesterday it was now up to Papua New Guinea to negotiate landing rights with the other neighboring countries such as Vanuatu and Fiji to fly there.

Mr. Oti said he had already informed Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu about this during their bilateral discussions in Port Moresby yesterday.

Mr. Oti also told the Post-Courier the new Government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare wants to see more Papua New Guinea private sector investment in the Solomon Islands. He said the Government welcomed Papua New Guinea companies which were already operating in the Solomon Islands but wanted to see more going to help develop the Solomons.

Meanwhile, Mr. Oti said the Solomon Islands Government will look into the reasons why it had taken so long for approval to be given for the Airways Hotel group to build a new hotel in Honiara. He said he was not aware of the reasons and once the Government finds out, it would advise the hotel group accordingly.

Both Mr. Oti and Sir Rabbie discussed issues relating to the common border, the security situation in the Solomons, the future of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) as well as trade and other bilateral matters. Sir Rabbie told the Post-Courier the two countries needed to resolve the issue of the actual border between the two countries before the border treaty can be ratified.

The other issue is where to establish border posts between the two countries. The Papua New Guinea border post is likely to be established at Buin in South Bougainville, Sir Rabbie said. He said the two countries can then move toward setting up facilities.

June 1, 2006

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