Sogavare, Bainimarama holds bilateral talks

PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has held bilateral discussions with his Fijian counter-part, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama at the margins of the PIDF3 Leaders Summit on Wednesday 2nd September in Suva.

At the talks, the two leaders discussed a number of issues including a proposal by Solomon Islands to host the Regional Police Academy (RPA) at the Guadalcanal Beach Resort (GBR) facilities where RAMSI is currently headquartered; Air Services Agreement (ASA), MOU on Education and a proposed MOU on Health.

On the proposed RPA, Prime Minister Sogavare inform Prime Minister Bainimarama that while at the MSG sub-regional level, members agree that Fiji will host the RPA, Solomon Islands would also like to offer the use of the GBR facilities once when RAMSI leaves by 2017.

This will complement the RPA that Fiji will host and this will be beneficial to the region. In response, Prime Minister Bainimarama noted the proposal and also updated the progress made towards the RPA in Fiji.

Regarding the Air Services Agreement, Prime Minister Sogavare noted the issue remains outstanding and urge that both airlines must engage in dialogue to sort their commercial interests and code sharing arrangements.

In response, Prime Minister Bainimarama noted the concern raised and further reiterated that the MOU signed by both countries early this year was for both airlines to enter into code sharing arrangements. Furthermore, the Air Services Agreement remains paramount and any arrangements must not undermine the ASA.

On the MOU on Education, Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledge Fiji’s offer and inform that Solomon Islands had already given its approval on the draft MOU on Education and now it is with the government of Fiji.

In response, Prime Minister Bainimarama inform that Fiji will look into ways to assist Solomon Islands by introducing local fees to be paid by our students studying at the Fiji National University (FNU). This would cut the cost for our students studying at FNU. Currently, our students pay international fees which are very expensive.

On scholarship, Prime Minister Bainimarama announced that Fiji will be providing 10 Scholarship for Solomon Islanders studying certificate level one at the FNU.

In response, Prime Minister Sogavare welcome the announcement made and is looking forward for this arrangement to come into fruition.

On the proposed MOU on Health, Prime Minister Sogavare emphasized the importance of formalizing the arrangements on health so that it would provide an opportunity for Solomon Islanders to be treated at an affordable cost compared to other places where it is costly.

Prime Minister Bainimarama in response informed that Fiji is looking forward to assist Solomon Islands on Health and that it is up to the Health ministries of both countries to pursue the arrangement.

During the bilateral meeting, the Hon. Prime Minister was accompanied by His Excellency, Patteson Oti, Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Fiji, the Special Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr Rence Sore and the Assistant Secretary of the Pacific Desk, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Mr Cornelius Walegerea.

Source: OPMC, press release