Australia Expresses Regret To Vanuatu Over Official’s Arrest

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PM Kilman, Secretary Marles wish to put events behind them

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 3, 2012) – The Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs has told Vanuatu’s Prime Minister he regrets any inconvenience during a recent incident when a senior government official was arrested at Sydney airport.

Clarence Marae has appeared in court in Australia on fraud allegations, after being arrested in Aprli while passing through Sydney airport with the prime minister, Sato Kilman, en route to Israel.

The Vanuatu government claimed that Canberra breached protocol in the way it treated Mr Kilman in Sydney and expelled all Australian federal police last month after Canberra refused to apologise.

Mr Kilman met Australia’s Richard Marles last month while attending the Pacific Islands Leaders’ meeting in Japan.

In a statement, Mr Kilman and Mr Marles say they agreed that the strong relationship between Australia and Vanuatu is of enduring value to both countries.

Mr Marles reaffirmed to Mr Kilman that Australia deeply respects the importance and dignity of his position as Prime Minister.

He expressed regret at any inconvenience during the Prime Minister’s recent travel through Sydney airport and reassured Vanuatu that the Prime Minister will always be an honoured visitor to Australia.

Both Prime Minister Kilman and Mr Marles expressed a keen desire to put the events of April in the past.

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