PM MEETS SENIOR AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMAT

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Mr Ric Wells

Australian Senior foreign affairs official Deputy Secretary Ric Wells from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade made a courtesy call on Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare this afternoon as part of his three-day visit to Solomon Islands.

As the Deputy Secretary with oversight for Pacific foreign, trade and aid policy, including the important bilateral relationship with Solomon Islands, Mr Wells conveyed Australia’s strong commitment to security and stability in Solomon Islands.

This commitment extends beyond the winding up of RAMSI next year, and it is a bipartisan commitment supported by successive Australian governments of both the Coalition and the Australian Labor Party.

Prime Minister Sogavare was appreciative of the gesture shown by Australia on its commitment to assist law and order in Solomon Islands, and has indicated to Mr Wells that while the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP) is considered on of the best trained police force in the Pacific, there are situations that Solomon Islands may request for Australian support, especially in international policing.

However, detailed consultations on bilateral security and police cooperation after RAMSI will resume after the Australian Federal election on 2 July.

DFAT’s third largest overseas diplomatic mission is in Solomon Islands and Mr Wells is meeting all Australian High Commission staff to provide policy and corporate guidance.

Mr Wells will also visit the National Referral Hospital, Woodside International School and the FFA.

He will also visit the RAMSI base for a discussion with the Special Coordinator, RAMSI and the acting Commander, Participating Police Force, to discuss the scheduled conclusion of RAMSI in June 2017.

Mr Wells will also meet leading figures in the private sector from both international and local companies to hear about the opportunities and challenges associated with doing business in Solomon Islands.

He was accompanied to the courtesy meeting by Australia’s High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, HE Andrew Byrne.

Mr Wells leaves the Solomon Islands on Thursday.