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Security tops agenda for Pacific Dialogue

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

1 December 2004

Security tops agenda for Southwest Pacific Dialogue

Counter-terrorism and trans-national crime will top the agenda at this week’s Southwest Pacific Dialogue meeting in Adelaide, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

The third annual dialogue, to be held this Thursday and Friday, will bring together senior ministers from New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and East Timor.

“Regional security will be the main focus of discussions. As we saw with this year’s attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and the 2002 Bali bombings, terrorism is as much an issue in this part of the world as anywhere," Mr Goff said.

"The meeting offers a chance to collectively consider the regional terrorism situation, and to assess regional cooperation on counter-terrorism measures, maritime security and capacity-building initiatives.

"People smuggling, illegal fishing and piracy are all issues that threaten regional growth and stability, and are likely to be discussed in detail. Developmental challenges such as rapid population growth, education limitations, and diseases such as HIV-Aids also have the potential to compromise national and regional security if not adequately addressed."

Mr Goff said the dialogue process was set up at Indonesia’s initiative in 2002 to discuss the major political, security, economic, social and cultural issues of the southwest Pacific.

“This sort of regular, high-level contact with a small and focused group of governments in the region allows us to assess common issues and to consider separate and collective responses.

“The overriding goal is the peace, stability, and prosperity of countries in the sub-region. The dialogue offers an opportunity for frank, informal discussions that can help reduce misunderstandings and promote cooperative approaches, such as in regional security and cross-boundary issues," Mr Goff said.

The first dialogue meeting was held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in 2002. New Zealand hosted last year's meeting in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

ENDS

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