The President of the Republic of Kiribati, His Excellency Taneti Maamau has acknowledged the friendly ties between Kiribati and Solomon Islands and expressed desire to see this friendship further strengthened by collaborating in new areas of interest to both countries.
His Excellency Taneti and his wife First Lady Teiraeng paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare last Friday (30 June 2017).
The Kiribati President and First lady Teiraeng represented the Government and People of Kiribati at the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Farewell celebrations last week.
President Taneti told the Prime Minister that he felt obliged to personally meet the Prime Minister to thank him for a number of issues which underpin the friendly ties between the two countries before departing Solomon Islands.
- Solomon Islands continued hosting of people from Kiribati in various parts of the country;
- Relaxation of visa for Kiribati citizens;
- Solomon Airlines restoration of service to Kiribati ; and
- Kiribati’s participation RAMSI.
President Maamau said there is a large community of people from Kiribati in Solomon Islands and he is grateful for the continued hospitality shown to them by Solomon Islands.
The Kiribati community is made up of people that were brought from the Phoenix group of Islands in Kiribati to resettle in Solomon Islands between 1954 to 1970 due to drought and famine. Both Solomon Islands and Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati) were then administered by the British Western Pacific High Commission based in Suva, Fiji.
He said in reciprocation of the goodwill shown by Solomon Islanders to the Kiribati community in Solomon Islands, the Kiribati Government has allowed Solomon Islanders living in Suva, to temporarily occupy a vacant land it owns there.
President Maamau welcomed the relaxation of visa for Kiribati passport-holders as it will help the movement of Solomon Islands passport-holders and Kiribati passport-holders between Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
President Maamau said the restoration of air services to Kiribati by Solomon Airlines provides travellers between Kiribati and Solomon Islands with an additional airline choice and expressed hope that this development will promote trade between the two countries.
On Kiribati’s participation in RAMSI, President Maamau said RAMSI has been a successful Pacific partnership which Kiribati has also benefitted through the participation of its police officers by way of remittances and uplift in professional standards.
He said an area in which Solomon Islands and Kiribati can also collaborate in and enhance their friendly ties is labour mobility whereby Solomon Islands can work in Kiribati and vice-versa.
Prime Minister Sogavare thanked President Maamau for the courtesy he has shown by calling on him to acknowledge the positive development on issues upon which the friendly ties between their two countries are premised.
He said there are a lot of people from Kiribati living in Solomon Islands and there is a Kiribati community in his very own Constituency of East Choiseul and they have well integrated into the Solomon Islands society.
The Prime Minister said people from Kiribati can be found in various walks of life and see themselves as Solomon Islanders though they do travel back to Kiribati to visit relatives.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the kind remarks uttered by President Maamau on visa relaxation by Solomon Islands for Kiribati passport-holders and the restoration of service by Solomon Airlines to Kiribati.
He said these are manifestations of the close and friendly ties between the two countries.
Prime Minister Sogavare informed President Maamau that the Solomon Islands Government is working towards introducing dual citizenship and this would enable members of the Solomon Islands Kiribati community to become citizens of both Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
He said a new issue worth consideration by Solomon Islands and Kiribati and other member countries of the PNA (Parties to the Nauru Agreement) is the establishment of an annual meeting where they can discuss issues of common interest.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the establishment of such a meeting will further strengthen the ties between Solomon Islands and other PNA member countries.
The Prime Minister said President Peter Christian of the Federated States of Micronesia first flagged in this idea and he thinks it is a brilliant one that should be seriously considered.
Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledged the participation of Kiribati police officers in RAMSI and expressed hope that their time with the mission has raised their standards of professionalism.
He added that despite the end of RAMSI, the relationship between Solomon Islands and the Pacific, including Kiribati will remain.
Prime Minister Sogavare and President Maamau exchanged gifts at the conclusion of their meeting.