17 Nov 2006

RAMSI should be distinct from bilateral issues and treated as regional initiative, says MSG

6:44 pm on 17 November 2006

The Melanesian Spearhead Group says the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands should remain independent from outside political influences.

RAMSI's operations are under question as both Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are embroiled in a diplomatic stoush with Australia over the Julian Moti affair.

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister has been pushing for an independent review of RAMSI and continues to criticise Australia's dominance of the operation.

Now PNG is reported to be pulling out of sending a new contingent of police to join RAMSI because it's unable to send them to Australia for training due to a PNG government ban on travel there by public officials.

The head of the MSG interim secretariat, Johnny Koanapo, says RAMSI is a regional initiative of the Pacific Forum which should be dealt with by the Forum members collectively rather than Australia alone.

"There should be a clear distinction between issues of bilateral nature between Solomon islands and Australia. Those were the decisions taken by the leaders during the Nadi leaders meeting."

Johnny Koanapo of the MSG.