The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
15 October 2000

Solomon Islands: Signature of the Townsville Peace Agreement

I warmly welcome the signature today of the Townsville Peace Agreement for the Solomon Islands.   I applaud the efforts of the 130 conference delegates who have worked hard over the past six days to bridge the divisions between them, for the sake of their troubled country.   Implementation of the agreement is potentially of enormous benefit to all the people of the Solomon Islands, so many of whom have suffered severely and directly from the violent conflicts and other impacts of the ethnic tension over the past two years.   I am delighted the facilities and support Australia has been able to provide for the conference at RAAF Base Townsville have assisted such an important and satisfying outcome.

The Peace Agreement signed today in Townsville lays the ground for a desperately needed return to normal life without the threat of violence in the Solomon Islands.  Signature is only the first step.  Determined commitment will be needed from all the parties to ensure it is implemented effectively under the pressures which may be placed on it over the coming months.  Implementation of the Agreement will allow Australia to deliver the assistance we have promised to support the reconstruction of the devastated Solomon Islands economy and to provide other "peace dividends", including to those areas most directly affected by the tensions.  I am sure other friends of the Solomon Islands will respond in a similar way.

The Townsville Agreement provides for the establishment of an international peace monitoring team to help with a number of key aspects of the peace agreement.  Australia accepts that external involvement of this sort could be an important support for peace and will consult closely with the Solomon Islands Government and other interested governments in determining how best we can contribute to such a team.

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For further information:
James Baker (Ministerial) 
Matt Francis (Departmental)  02 6261 1111


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