23 Oct 2006

NZ and Australian PMs fly into Fiji later today for tense Forum meeting

11:41 am on 23 October 2006

The Australian prime minister, John Howard, arrives in Fiji this afternoon

for the Pacific Islands Forum summit as a row with Solomon Islands


The Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has described a

police raid on his office in Honiara as very provocative and totally


The raid has led to moves to sack the country's Australian police

commissioner, Shane Castles, and for calls to change the Australian

dominated Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI.

Mr Sogavare would not comment on the outcome of talks that were held with

the prime ministers of Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea but a statement

from the Melanesian Spearhead group is expected shortly.

The Solomon Islands Foreign Minister, Patteson Oti, says they are calling on

Mr Qarase, as chairman of the Forum, to speak out.

The Forum is responsible for RAMSI which operates as a regional initiative.

Mr Oti says Australia cannot dictate to the region about RAMSI and it needs


The Small Islands summit begins today but it is likely to be

overshadowed by the row between Solomon Islands and Australia.