14 Mar 2006

MSG leaders against force to end new Bougainville crisis

4:23 pm on 14 March 2006

The Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders are not expected to discuss the use of force as an option over the crisis of the former Fiji soldiers on Bougainville.

The foreign ministers of the MSG are meeting in Vanuatu tomorrow in an urgent session called by Papua New Guinea over that, and other issues.

The interim chairman of the MSG secretariat, Johnny Koanapo, says the problems on the PNG autonomous province of Bougainville will be top of the agenda.

Mr Koanapo had been quoted as saying that the possible use of force is one option on the table but he now says he's been misquoted.

"That's not an option that's already been discussed, probably a misquote. But, a stand-by sort of security force was discussed at the last MSG meeting in Goroka but it's still a concept that still needs to be worked on, still needs to be looked at in detail."

Mr Koanapo says the MSG would review the current visa-free system between the member countries in light of what has occurred.

The MSG groups Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.