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Cablegate: New Zealand's Read-Out From Pacific Island Forum

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PP RUEHPB
DE RUEHWL #0866 3070116
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 030116Z NOV 06 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3454
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 4596
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY PRIORITY 0609
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA PRIORITY 0529
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000866

SIPDIS

///C O R R E C T E D COPY...SEE SUBJECT LINE///

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/EP, AND EAP/ANP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/02/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV NZ XV XU
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND'S READ-OUT FROM PACIFIC ISLAND FORUM

REF: WELLINGTON 815

Classified By: DCM David J. Keegan for Reasons: 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (C) Summary: GNZ reports that initial concerns that the Pacific
Island Forum (PIF) would be derailed over tensions between Solomon
Island and Australia regarding the Regional Assistance Mission to
Solomons (RAMSI) were resolved by private dialogue among Leaders
during retreat. The sessions between Assistant Secretary Hill and the
Leaders was seen by GNZ as especially helpful. The Leaders'
communique, calling for review of RAMSI while endorsing its mission,
kept momentum moving forward. The PIF targeted energy,
transportation and communications as areas for development and
requested a progress report by 2007 Forum. GNZ is developing visa
scheme to enhance labor mobility for Pacific Islanders.

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2. (C) On November 1, ECONOFF discussed New Zealand's assessment of
the outcome of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) meetings with Heather
Riddell, Director of the Pacific Division at Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade (MFAT). Despite GNZ's initial concerns that
regional tensions would make the PIF meetings complex and
contentious, the final results turned out better than expected. The
initial tension between RAMSI and the Government of the Solomon
Islands (GOS), as well as Papua New Guinea's role in helping
suspended GOS Attorney General Moti escape to the Solomons, were
issues that GNZ feared could cause the Melanesian countries to take
an "us vs. them" stance at the forum (see reftel). Riddell explained
that GOS's opening position was a strong demand for reform of RAMSI
with greater regional discussion to obtain independent review of its
mission and a call for an exit strategy. Despite calls to also
replace Forum Secretary General Greg Urwin as an anti-Australian
gesture, Mr. Urwin's appointment was extended for another term.

RAMSI Reaffirmed but Under Review
---------------------------------

3 (C) Riddell maintained that derailment of the forum was prevented
by a private retreat among the Leaders which ensured that cooler
heads prevailed. The Leaders formulated a communique expressing
strong endorsement for RAMSI while simultaneously calling for close
consultations with GOS and PIF. Leaders also agreed to establish a
taskforce to review RAMSI and report back to Foreign Ministers who
will make recommendations to Leaders. The consultative mechanism
between the GOS, RAMSI and the PIF would be chaired by the
representatives of the Forum Chair and involve senior representatives
of the Forum Troika of past, present and incoming chairs. The
timeframe for these reviews remains vague but GNZ would prefer sooner
rather than later.

"Grass roots" Economic Priorities
---------------------------------

4. (C) GNZ supports Leaders call for efforts to intensify regional
cooperation in relation to energy, transportation and
telecommunications (ICT). GNZ will be having additional
consultations with the PIF Secretariat later this month to ensure
that the adopted resolutions maintain traction. Their hope is that
specific implementing action occurs prior to next forum. GNZ sees
these economic sectors as having the greatest "grass roots" benefits.

Labor Mobility - Seasonal Work Scheme
-------------------------------------

5. (C) Riddell reported that GNZ is currently working with their
Immigration Dept. to implement a seasonal work scheme to encourage NZ
farmers and vintners to employ Pacific Islanders as short term
agricultural workers. Under the new scheme, if accredited employers
can demonstrate there are no Kiwis available to do the work, the
Government will first consult with Pacific Island countries before
making these jobs available to others. This scheme is not to detract
from current working holiday permits.

McCormick

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