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PM to Niue for 39th Pacific Islands Forum

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

12 August 2008 Media Statement

PM to Niue for 39th Pacific Islands Forum

Prime Minister Helen Clark will attend the 39th Pacific Islands Forum and post- Forum dialogue in Niue from 19 - 21 August.

“The annual meeting of Forum leaders is an excellent opportunity for me to meet colleagues in the region to discuss key issues of mutual concern, and support the ongoing development of Pacific regionalism,” Helen Clark said

“I also welcome the opportunity to join the post-Forum dialogue with key Forum partners, including representatives of the United States, European Union, China, and Japan.

“Fiji will be an important issue for Forum leaders this year. In Tonga last year Commodore Bainimarama committed to hold elections by March 2009 within the provisions of the current constitution and electoral law of Fiji. His recent statements indicating that the interim government has no intention of honouring that undertaking are of great concern.

“The recent mission to Fiji of the Forum Foreign Ministers Contact Group has highlighted that lack of political will is the only thing standing in the way of a March 2009 election. The Contact Group is making recommendations to Leaders about a way forward.”

Helen Clark said that a range of other issues will also be discussed, including advancing the Pacific Plan.

“The Pacific Plan underlines the need for regional co-operation to meet the challenges faced by Pacific island countries. Increases in fuel prices have been of particular concern this year.

“I hope that the Forum can progress an initiative for bulk fuel purchasing at the sub-regional level, which could significantly lower fuel prices for some island countries.

“The meeting will review key developments such as the success of New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme that has been applauded across the region. Of strong interest to Leaders is the work being done to reduce the cost of sending money home. Remittances play a crucial role in many Pacific economies,” Helen Clark said.

This year’s Forum provides Niue with the opportunity highlight to the wider Pacific family its own challenges and opportunities.

“Niue Premier Toke Talagi visited New Zealand on his first official visit two weeks ago. He was able to discuss with me his hopes for Niue in the future and to be reassured of New Zealand’s continuing commitment to Niue and its people,” Helen Clark said.


ENDS

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