SOLOMONS TO OPEN CHANCERY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

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Country’s first overseas mission facility

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 24, 2010) - Solomon Islands will open its chancery in Papua New Guinea on 21 May 2010.

Port Moresby will be the country’s first overseas mission to have its own office building.

High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Bernard Bata’anisia, is in the country this week finalizing arrangements for the historic event.

He said the opening of the chancery will coincide with Prime Minister, Dr. Derek Sikua’s official visit to Papua New Guinea before his tenure in office expires when a new prime minister will be elected later this year.

Mr. Bata’anisia said the visit will reciprocate the visit last year by the Grand Chief of Papua New Guinea and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.

He said the program has been finalized and Sikua and the Foreign Affairs Minister William Haomae will leave Honiara on May 19 and stay over-night in Brisbane before flying to Port Moresby on Thursday where Sikua will make a courtesy call on the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to hold bilateral talks on issues of common interest.

The opening of the chancery will take place Friday morning May 21 after which Sikua and his delegation will visit various educational institutions in PNG which host Solomon Islands students.

On Saturday morning, Prime Minister Sikua will have a golf match with PNG Grand chief and Prime Minister Sir Michael and in the afternoon he will meet the Solomon islands community in Papua New Guinea in the newly opened chancery.

"The opening of the chancery will fulfill one of the tasks I’ve seen it started to the end and will make me sleep better at nights," Bata’anisia said.

Discussions on the construction of a Solomon Islands permanent home in Port Moresby started well back in 2007 and not until 2008 when a ground breaking ceremony took place signifying that actual physical work had begun.

Bata’anisia said construction started in May last year and it took a joint venture company between a PNG firm and a Chinese firm 12 months to complete this magnificent building which stands among other foreign high commissions and embassies near the PNG Parliament House in Port Moresby.

He said the cost of the building cannot be rounded up yet as finishing work are still continuing but it may range between SB$25 and SB$30 million [US$3 and US$4 million].

Bata’anisia said the construction of the Chancery had gone through many challenges such as the global financial crisis and the ever increasing price of construction materials.

"I’m pleased that the building will finally be opened and a home to the Solomon islands government and its people visiting and residing in Port Moresby and PNg as a whole.

"It’ll also be a place where other important issues will be discussed such as trade and investment and cultural activities," Bata’anisia said.

He said the building is fully financed by PNG government through its bilateral assistance to Solomon Islands and had been agreed to by the two governments in 2007.

"The Papua New Guinea government and its people should be praised for availing that money to enable Solomon Islands have its first building overseas.

"The people of Solomon islands should also be proud that after more than 30 years of independence, they now can have a place in PNG which they can call home. This is a historic development for Solomon Islands diplomatically," Bata’anisia said.

He said the completion and the opening of the chancery will enable that government save money which it had spent over the years in office and residential rents which he said mount up to more than half a million each year for Solomon islands’ presence in PNG alone.

"When the Prime Minister and his delegation leave Port Moresby Sunday 23rd May, the Solomon Islands flag will fly over the chancery for as long as it takes and for the future generation of Solomon islands to see when in Papua New Guinea."

The country’s second chancery is currently under construction in Canberra, Australia.

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