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Australian Peacekeepers Hope to Restore Law and Order in Solomon Islands - 2003-07-24

Hundreds of Australian-led peacekeepers have arrived on the troubled Solomon Islands hoping to restore law and order in the South Pacific nation.

Australian C-130 Hercules aircraft touched down in the capital, Honiara, bringing the first troops in a more than 2,000-strong intervention force. More are on their way.

The Solomon Islands requested help from neighboring nations this month, after four years of ethnic strife and anarchy. The country is bankrupt and plagued with violence.

Pacific leaders authorized the intervention, fearing a lawless nation could be used by terrorists. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says the intention is to help.

"It is important that our involvement is handled in a Pacific way," she said. "We must be sympathetic to the interest and needs of the Solomon Islands people. "

Australian officials say it could take weeks or months before peace can be restored and maybe a decade to rebuild what were once known as the "Happy Isles."