16 Jul 2003

Australia says troops will be out of Solomons within weeks, months

4:14 pm on 16 July 2003

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says Australian troops will be in the Solomon Islands for only a few weeks.

This comes as cabinet is expected next week to authorise the deployment of 1,500 troops to lead an international force that will try to restore law and order in the troubled nation.

As many as 300 police will follow.

Mr Downer said there is an exit strategy to the intervention plan and that most of the Australian troops should be home in a few weeks or months.

But he says Australian police would stay until the Solomons' police force was in a position to maintain law and order on its own.

Mr Downer says that could last for a year or more, until the Royal Solomons Islands Police Force is really up and running.


The New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff says the intervention force will not entrench the power of corrupt members of the country's political elite.

New Zealand announced yesterday that it would send a 140 strong force of police and soldiers as part of the Australia led force.

Phil Goff expects any corrupt leaders to be rooted out by this process.

"If you restore the rule of law, then you most certainly have a situation, where anybody of whatever rank that commits a corrupt and illegal act, can be held to account for that action, and hopefully we will have in place, a policing, justice and corrections system that will deal with that particular problem."