SOLOMONS LAWMAKER URGES MENDING RELATION WITH AUSTRALIA

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 23) – Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs Patteson Oti should quickly mend the soured relationship with Australia or be removed from the portfolio.

This was the statement of Opposition Member of Parliament and former High Commissioner to Australia Milner Tozaka.

Mr. Tozaka said the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare should order Mr. Oti to mend Solomon Islands’ relationship with Australia.

He said if Mr. Oti is the obstacle to the process then Mr. Sogavare should replace him.

Mr. Tozaka made this statement after Papua New Guinea’s move to resolve its stand-off with Australia following Julian Moti’s escape to Munda.

He said Papua New Guinea, which also soured diplomatic relationship with Australia over the Julian Moti affair, has replaced its Foreign Affairs Minister.

Papua New Guinea’s new Foreign Affairs Minister Paul Tientsen recently announced he would offer an olive branch to his Australian counterpart, Alexandra Downer to mend the strained relationship.

In congratulating Papua New Guinea on its move to resolve the stand-off Mr. Tozaka said, "Mr. Tientsen’s intention is the right thing to do because trivial matters cannot be allowed to strain the long and healthy relationship between the two countries. Mr. Tientsen is smart because he realizes it is stupid to prolong a bad relationship and he is in the process to quickly smooth things out."

He said Solomon Islands should design its own response to extend the olive branch to Mr. Downer.

"The Prime Minister must intervene now by getting the ball rolling and should work with the Australian High Commission in Honiara to facilitate an appropriate meeting to mend the relationship with Australia without any further delay," the North Vella La Vella Member of Parliament said.

He said: "Life is too short to hold grudges."

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