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New Sec-Gen Almost Ready For Pacific's Challenges

New Pacific Forum Sec-General Ready For Region's Challenges

By John Andrews in Niue

Samoan diplomat Tuiloma Neroni Slade is unsure just when he can take up he take up his new post of secretary general of the Pacific Islands forum secretariat.

Slade (pictured right), who is Samoa's representative to the United Nations, said arrangements had yet to be made for him and his family to shift from New York to Fiji where the secretariat was based.

He was well aware the forum had been without a secretary general for some time --- his predecessor Greg Urwin resigned in May and died in August 2008.

The 67-year-old long time diplomat has no illusions of the range of work and the immediacy of a number of priority issues in which he will be involved.

He said: "It is difficult not to imagine a non-challenging issue in these times in this region, given the diversity and the many challenges that confront the region."

He looked forward to living in Fiji, renewing friendships and interacting with people he knew in the region.

At the forum leaders' retreat in Niue this week, Slade was selected for the top forum post ahead of two other contenders, Feleti Teo, the forum's deputy secretary general from Tuvalu, and Wilkie Rasmussen, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Cook Islands.

New forum chairman, Toke Talagi, said Slade got the nod in the first ballot.

Forum sources said the margin in favour of the Samoan was 'solid'. They said Rasmussen's absence from Niue in the lobbying process might have influenced the leaders' thinking.


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