Iran to Provide Funds to Solomons Students

A01186602.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- The Solomon Islands government has reportedly accepted an offer from Iran, to cover the travel costs for Solomon Islands medical students travelling to Cuba.

Iran made the offer in talks in New York last September, sources said.

The Solomon Islands has started a move to establish ties with Iran. The Coalition for National Unity and Rural Advancement (CNURA) government is engaged in bilateral talks with the Iranian government. The Islands’ Foreign Minister William Haomae, and his Permanent Secretary Barnabas Anga, were in Tehran last week.

Details as to how much money was involved are sketchy.

The sources said the government has accepted the offer and the money had been paid via the Solomon Islands Mission (Embassy) at the United Nations in New York.

The Iranians, the sources said, would also provide computers for our medical students in Cuban medical schools.

Iran’s offer to meet airfares and to provide computers were agreed in talks in New York last September when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki as well as the Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Derek Sikua were attending the United Nations General Assembly [UNGA].

Many of the Islands’ students who were accepted for training in Cuba could not travel this year because of shortage in funding.

Training Solomon Islands medical students in Cuba was first initiated by Manasseh Sogavare’s government.

Under the arrangement, the Solomon Islands government was to pay students’ travel costs to and from Cuba while the Havana government meets lodging and other internal costs.

As part of the scheme, Cuban medical doctors would be sent to work in Solomon Islands hospitals. At least two are already working at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara.

The Solomon Islands government has shown much enthusiasm for the talks with Tehran, saying it would pave the way for signing a bilateral cooperation agreement with Iran.

The statement said such an agreement would make way for the two countries to explore specific cooperative arrangements, including the possibility of formalizing diplomatic relations.

Iran is a member of the UN and has diplomatic relations with 102 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

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