Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare has welcomed New Zealand’s new High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Don Higgins, following his arrival in the country.

The Prime Minister conveyed greetings on behalf of the Solomon Islands Government and People to His Excellency Higgins in a courtesy meeting in the Prime Minister’s office today.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Sogavare and His Excellency Higgins reaffirmed the commitment of their two countries to maintaining their longstanding close relationship, including a strong development partnership which focuses on the areas of infrastructure development, education and fisheries support.

Prime Minister Sogavare told the New Zealand High Commissioner that Solomon Islands appreciates New Zealand’s significant aid and development programme in Solomon Islands and that he looks forward for a close working relationship with him.

He expressed acknowledgement for New Zealand’s assistance towards the areas hardest hit by the recent earthquake, in particular Makira island in Makira-Ulawa Province and parts of the Southern region of Malaita Province.

His Excellency Higgins welcomed the remarks the Prime Minister expressed about New Zealand’s aid and development programme in Solomon Islands as well as assistance towards the earthquake- stricken areas.

He also articulated eagerness to also working closely with the Prime Minister and his Government during the term of his posting in Honiara.

He expressed sympathy over the effects of the earthquake and pronounced that New Zealand was pleased to provide the assistance it has given towards immediate relief efforts.

The New Zealand High Commissioner also spoke about New Zealand’s move to establish its very own chancery building in Honiara next year.

“This simply demonstrates that New Zealand is here for the long haul,” he said in reference to the chancery project.

His Excellency Higgins added that the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully will be visiting Solomon Islands early next year and also at the time of the departure of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). The RAMSI exit is scheduled for June 2017.

The New Zealand High Commissioner acknowledged the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force as a force that has been well trained and fully capable of assuming the leadership role in policing and national security again in the post-RAMSI era.

His Excellency Higgins succeeds Her Excellency Marion Crawshaw who served as the New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands from April 2014 until recently. She previously served in Solomon Islands from 1998 to 2001 as the New Zealand Deputy High Commissioner.

His Excellency Higgins served in Kirabati prior to his Solomon Islands posting.

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