Howard departs from policy of
non-intervention
 

Prime Minister John Howard told parliament that sending the troops was necessaryto prevent the Solomons from sliding into anarchy and possibly becoming a haven for international “terrorists” and criminals.

  

"The assistance that is being contemplated includes substantial policing, law and justice and economic assistance, backed up by significant operational support from the Australian Defence Force," Howard said.

 

New Zealand involved

 

He said the controversial participation of the Australian military was "crucial to the safety and effectiveness of any external assistance."

  

Howard said the security assistance would also involve New Zealand and other regional governments. It would be implemented only after authorization by the Solomons' parliament.

 

The first stage would involve sending about 150 police and soldiers to the Solomons for a year to restore law and order. The second phase would focus on rebuilding political and security infrastructure and restoring the nation's finances.

  

Once known as the "Happy Isles", the Solomons has been wracked by almost four years of civil war that has left the Melanesian nation of 500,000 people nearly bankrupt and ridden with crime.