1 Mar 2004

Solomons and Australian leaders optimistic about the future

4:42 pm on 1 March 2004

The Australian Prime Minister John Howard has expressed confidence in the rebuilding process in Solomon Islands at talks with his Solomons counterpart, Sir Allen Kemakeza.

This follows the sending of 15 hundred defence, police and civilian administrators to the Solomons last year as part of a regional assistance mission to help restore law and order and stamp out corruption.

Mr Howard says both he and Sir Allen have very optimistic views of the future of Solomon Islands.

He says the regional assistance mission, and Australia's plan to send police advisers into Papua New Guinea, marks a turning point for Pacific Island nations.

Mr Howard says the atmosphere in the Pacific has changed.

Sir Allan says he raised the issue of improved visa access to allow Solomon Islanders to come to Australia as guest workers.

Mr Howard said Australia would consider the proposal, but played down hopes of improved access for Solomon Islands workers.