The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has begun his visit to Solomon Islands as chief guest for the celebrations to mark the 35th anniversary of the  country’s Independence.

He flew into rain-swept Honiara this morning to a full ceremonial welcome and inspected a guard of honour before leaving the airport to pay a courtesy call on the Governor-General, Sir Frank Kabui.

The Prime Minister briefed Sir Frank on progress towards the elections in Fiji next year and they discussed other areas of mutual interest, including developments in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Sir Frank told the Prime Minister that Solomon Islands was grateful for the assistance of Fijians living in the Solomon’s, who continued to contribute to the economic and social growth of the country.

“We have a very big Fijian community here in Honiara and we are happy with the contributions they have made to our country over many decades”, he said.

The Prime Minister then proceeded with a program that included a meeting with his Solomon’s counterpart, Gordon Darcy Lilo. After that, he laid a wreath at the memorial to Fijian troops who lost their lives in the Solomons campaign against the Japanese advance in World War Two. 50 Fijian soldiers died in the Solomons Campaign during World War Two. He was accompanied by two Fijian veterans of the campaign who are part of the official delegation.

Later in the day, the Prime Minister will attend a dinner in his honour hosted by the Solomon Islands Government. Tomorrow, he is due to attend a church service and then another gathering hosted by the Fijian community in Honiara.

The main Independence anniversary celebrations take place on Monday at Honiara’s Lawson Tama Stadium. They include a military parade in which both Solomon’s security personnel and visiting Fijian troops will take part.