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Summit shows lingering mistrust, fear

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 21, 2009) – An historic summit between former enemies has wound up in Solomon Islands.

23 chiefs from the province of Malaita travelled to Marau Sound to meet 14 chiefs from Guadalcanal.

Militant groups from the two provinces fought bitterly during the tensions that left 100 people dead and 20-thousand displaced between 1998 and 2003.

World Vision organised the peace summit.

Its associate operations coordinator in Solomon Islands, John Misitee, says lasting mistrust meant that even bringing the Malaitan chiefs to Guadalcanal was an achievement.

"They say that they were really scared. People in the community were also telling them that you won’t come back, something bad will happen to you. That demonstrates that there is still you know fear between the two groups and so taking them from Malaita going over to Marau, is in itself a big step."

John Misitee says the two groups talked openly during the summit and the next step will be to hold a similar meeting between the youth of Malaita and Guadalcanal.

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