SOLOMONS PRIME MINISTER TO SUE NEWSPAPER

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Story says Sikua got drunk and misbehaved in New York.

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 15, 2008) - Prime Minister Dr. Derek Sikua on Tuesday confirmed he had given instructions to his lawyer to sue the Island Sun newspaper.

This was over an article the paper published last week, which claimed Dr. Sikua got drunk and misbehaved while attending the recent United Nations meeting in New York. His Secretary, Jerry Manele, earlier announced he’s suing the paper for the same matter.

Meanwhile, Sikua said he’s been advised by Australian High Commissioner Peter Hooton that he had not offended his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd at the UN meeting. He said he received the advice in the form of a letter from Mr. Hooton. This followed the Island Sun report, which suggested Sikua caused a diplomatic embarrassment when he failed to turn up for Mr. Rudd’s UN General Assembly address.

"Mr. Hooton says no offence was taken and no damage done to a very close and cooperative bilateral relationship between Solomon Islands and Australia," Sikua said.

"Mr. Hooton says: ‘I can assure you this was not the case. I understand the Australian delegation had been advised you would not be present.’"

Sikua said he accepted the advice, adding it has nullified a call for a formal national apology to Canberra by Opposition leader Manasseh Sogavare.

Meanwhile, Island Sun said the prime minister is at liberty to take whatever action he wants against them.

"We have all the evidence to back up our report," said Island Sun Chief of Staff Richard Toke.

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