Australia is a true friend indeed: PM Sogavare

(PM Press Secretariat): PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has reiterated the Solomon Islands Government’s appreciation to the Australian Government describing Australia as a true friend.

The Prime Minister highlighted this during a courtesy visit to his office by the Head of Australia’s Office of the Pacific, Mr Ewen Mcdonald this week.

Mr Sogavare said Australia has always stood beside Solomon Islands through both good and bad times.

“Australia has played a leading role with RAMSI when this country was on a brink of collapse. And for that we will always be thankful,” he said.

Prime Minister Sogavare also acknowledged Australia’s leading role in regional security apart from the many ongoing bilateral programs between the two countries.

The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to reiterate the National Government’s appreciation for the Undersea Cable System, which is expected to be officially launched, December this year.

“It’s a gift from the Australian people to this country and we really appreciate that,” he said.

He also thanked Australia for its support to the Tina Hydro Project and many other infrastructure and non-infrastructure assistance provided to the Solomon Islands.

Prime Minister Sogavare also thanked Australia and New Zealand for deploying their military personnel and assets to provide operational and logistics support in the lead up to, during an immediately after the national general elections.

“Without their support, some polling stations would not have received ballot papers which would have prevented people in these areas to execute their right to vote,” he said.

Prime Minister Sogavare also briefed Mr Mcdonald that the first meeting of Parliament will be convened this month to elect a new Speaker.

“Apart from that, the Government has already settled down and officials are now putting together the policies. This Government is made up of four different political parties,” he said.

Mr Mcdonald in response has also reaffirmed that Australia will always remain a true friend to Solomon Islands.

He said Australia stands ready to support the people of Solomon Islands and to support the programs and priorities of the Government.

“We are also committed to a secure pacific region and Solomon Islands is a key part of that,” he said.

He said Solomon Islands had always been a major partner to Australia in the pacific region.

Mr Mcdonald also assured the Prime Minister that the Australia-Solomon Islands partnership and the wider Australia-Pacific partnership enjoyed bipartisan support from both the Government and Opposition Group in Australia.

Therefore, he said a change in any Government in Australia following the elections later this month will not alter Australia’s commitment to the pacific as well as the Solomon Islands.

Meanwhile, Mr Mcdonald has also congratulated the Prime Minister on his election on April 24th.

“I wish your Government well,” he said.

He also spoke highly of the RSIPF for their professionalism in the way they have handled the situation during and after the Prime Minister’s election.