1 Jul 2003

Sydney meeting approves intervention force for Solomon Islands

11:04 am on 1 July 2003

Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says a force of mainly Australian troops and police could land in Solomon Islands in about three weeks.

It will be the biggest armed expedition in the South Pacific since World War II after Forum countries unanimously accepted a Solomon Islands request for help to enforce law and order and provide aid to rebuild the country's economy.

After yesterdays meeting in Sydney, New Zealand foreign minister, Phil Goff, said the decision to send the force had been supported by the Commonwealth and the United Nations.....

"The Commonwealth Secretary General, Don McKinnon, indicated he would strongly support a collective decision by the Pacific to respond positively to the Solomon Islands government. Equally, the Department of Political Affairs in the UN said that they welcomed New Zealand's and Australia's leadership in this area and would support a lgitimate request from a sovereign country to be responded to positively by other countries in the region to ensure stability and security."

Mr Goff also says Pacific Forum countries were unanimous in their support for the deployment of the force.