SOGAVARE MULLS OVER OLIVE BRANCH FROM CANBERRA

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Mar 27) – Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has indicated the possibility of sending a government delegation to Canberra in response to Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s request for a dialogue to iron out the diplomatic spat between the neighbours.

Mr Downer last week invited Government officials from Honiara to Canberra to discuss the diplomatic stand-off.

Mr Sogavare told Solomon Star last night that he always believes in negotiation and the door is always open.

He said the government has not made an official response as yet - but they would channel their response through the High Commission in Honiara.

"We were busy and haven’t settled down but we’ll discuss that," Mr Sogavare said.

He believes that the way out was to discuss one issue at a time until the matter is resolved.

Mr Downer last week described as positive Sogavare’s decision to accept High Commissioner Peter Hooton’s letter of introduction.

The once cordial and warm relationship between the two countries was derailed after the expulsion of former Australian High Commissioner Patrick Cole late last year.

It further strained when Honiara refused to extradite Australian lawyer Julian Moti who was wanted by Australian police for alleged sex charges.

Any decision by Honiara to positively response to Down’s request to meet in Canberra will be a major boost for the mending of the relationship.

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