18 Sep 2006

New Zealand foreign minister rejects reports he'll mediate in Solomons/Australia row

3:24 pm on 18 September 2006

The Solomon Island's Prime Minister and the Australian Foreign Minister are meeting other leaders this week amid a diplomatic stand-off between the two countries.

Manasseh Sogavare and Alexander Downer are attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Tension remains between the two countries following the expulsion of the Australian High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Patrick Cole.

Mr Sogavare has accused the Australian government of trying to stop his inquiry into the Honiara riots in a bid to protect the Australian police commanders involved.

The Solomon Islands cabinet is meeting today but officials remain tight-lipped about the status of the inquiry, saying the issue is controversial.

Mr Sogavare, who is due to leave for New York tomorrow, said New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, had offered to negotiate between Honiara and Canberra to solve the issue.

He said he would meet Mr Peters while they were both in New York.

However a spokesman for Mr Peters denies he made any offer to mediate between the parties.