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New Zealand FM to discuss economic progress in Solomon Islands

01-11-2012 08:55 BJT

WELLINGTON, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully is to discuss plans for economic development in the Solomon Islands this week as his country gradually withdraws its peacekeeping troops from the island nation.

McCully, who leaves for the Solomon Islands Wednesday, will meet with Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo for the first time since Lilo became prime minister in November as well as Cabinet members, and visit key aid projects.

"New Zealand and the Solomon Islands have a close and longstanding relationship. We will be discussing a range of issues including regional matters, New Zealand's development assistance program and the RAMSI (Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands) transition," said McCully in a statement.

"New Zealand is investing in a range of projects in the Solomon Islands to create economic opportunities as we look for drawdown from the RAMSI commitment," he said.

"As part of the Joint Commitment for Development signed between our countries in September last year, New Zealand will invest up to 25 million NZ dollars (19.85 million U.S. dollars) in the redevelopment of key infrastructure in the Western Province, including the Munda runway, Noro-Munda road and the runway at Gizo. I will be visiting these projects during my trip."

New Zealand, which holds the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum this year, agreed to commit troops to the RAMSI, when the forum governments established the mission to restore order after a period of civil unrest and violence in 2003.

New Zealand originally contributed 50 troops to the mission, but only seven New Zealand soldiers now serve alongside other RAMSI personnel from Australia, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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