22 Jan 2008

Solomons PM Sikua arrives in PNG for fence-mending talks

10:09 am on 22 January 2008

New Solomon Islands Prime Minister Derek Sikua is in Port Moresby for fence-mending talks with his Papua New Guinea counterpart Sir Michael Somare.

Dr Sikua is expected to apologise for former Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's boycott of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tonga last year, and for the Julian Moti affair.

Mr Sogavare boycotted the forum meeting because of disagreements over the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

His strained relations with Australia worsened after he appointed Moti, a Fijian-born Australian lawyer, as his attorney-general and refused Australian requests to extradite him to face child sex charges.

After Dr Sikua was elected prime minister last month following the ousting of Mr Sogavare from the top job in a parliamentary no-confidence vote, his government deported Moti to face the Australian authorities.

The prime minister also plans to visit Australia and New Zealand next week to mend relations severely strained during Mr Sogavare's controversial rule.