IRAN JOINS PACIFIC HUNT, OFFERS SOLOMONS AID

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Foreign Affairs Minister makes foray into Pacific region

HONIARA, Solomon Islands x (Solomon Times, Nov. 3, 2008) - Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has said that Iran is ready to provide the Solomon Islands with engineering know-how to assist in its development aspirations.

In a meeting with the Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister William Haomae, Mottaki said that areas in which Iran could help the Solomon Islands include energy, trade, education, industry, mining and urban development sectors.

"Iran has 100 years of experience in the field of oil industries. Cooperation within the framework of south-south countries is very useful," stated Mottaki.

William Haomae, for his part, called for making use of Iran's experiences within the framework of south-south countries. Haomae sought Iran's cooperation with his country in dam building, man power training, trade and oil and gas exploration.

He invited Mottaki to visit the Solomon Islands soon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade has had to clarify the purpose of the trip after the Opposition Leader, Manasseh Sogavare, blasted the move saying that Iran "did not believe in the principles of democracy."

"Solomon Islands are yet to establish diplomatic relations with Iran. It has however signed a Cooperative Memorandum with Iran which basically allows for the two countries to explore specific cooperative arrangements, including the possibility of formalizing diplomatic relations.

"Iran and Solomon Islands are both members of the 077 (Group of Developing Countries at the UN), hence the Cooperative Memorandum was signed within the spirit of South-South Cooperation," the statement reads.

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