Solomon Islands

Prime Minister visits Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

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From 6-8 March 2008 Prime Minister, the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, along with Parliamentary Secretary for International Development the Hon. Bob McMullan MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs the Hon. Duncan Kerr SC MP, visited Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

The visit to PNG commenced with a round of meetings in Port Moresby where Prime Minister Rudd met with the Right Honorable Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Prime Minister of PNG and members of the PNG Cabinet.

The two Prime Ministers held a joint press conference where they signed and announced the Port Moresby Declaration which symbolises Australia's new approach to the region. The core of the Declaration will see Australia begin to negotiate Pacific Partnerships for Development with the nations of the Pacific.

The Australian and PNG Governments also began dialogue on long term cooperation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Other announcements during the visit to PNG included:

- $13 million to NGOs working across PNG with people affected by HIV and AIDS.

- Up to $25 million increase in development funding in 2008-09 to help PNG meet its Millennium Development Goals.

- $260,000 package to help develop sport in PNG.

In Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rudd held bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Derek Sikua on a range of issues, including the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, Pacific development partnerships, and Australia's bid to host the Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting in 2009.

Other announcements during the visit to Solomon Islands included:

- $3 million additional funding for the rehabilitation and maintenance of rural roads.

- $1.5 million further funding for the construction of shelters in communities affected by the April 2007 earthquake and tsunami.

- Up to $10 million in additional assistance in 2008-09 to support work in priority areas, including in infrastructure development, health, technical education and reforestation.

The visits herald a bright future of cooperation on many levels between both Governments.