Cablegate: Pacific Island Forum 2008: Post Forum Dialogue

DE RUEHWL #0276/01 2452027
O 012027Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (SBU) Summary. During the August 21 Post Forum
Dialogue, dialogue partner nations outlined ongoing and
projected assistance projects with the Pacific island nations
and generally lauded the Forum's Communique issued a day
earlier. Most countries associated themselves with the
Forum's strong statement on Fiji, which Niue Prime Minister
Talagi noted represented the sentiments of all Forum nations.
China, Thailand, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines
avoided any mention of Fiji in their interventions and
focused on development issues; Malaysia urged continued
"ASEAN-style" dialogue with Fiji's Interim Government. The
four main topics of discussion (climate change, energy
security, food security, and fisheries) were welcomed by
dialogue partners, who renewed their pledge to assist the
Pacific Island Countries (PICs) meet their Millennium
Development Goals. All countries also welcomed the news of
Samoan candidate Tuiloma Neroni Slade as the new PIF
Secretary General. The PIF agreed to support Canada's bid
for the UNSC in 2010-2012. PDAS Davies informed participants
about the Energy Development for Island Nations project;
Nauru and Cook Islands officials made a plea for USG
technical assistance on renewable energy issues. PDAS Davies
emphasized in his bilateral discussions the continued need to
support the PIF in promoting a return to democracy in Fiji.
During Davies' bilateral meeting with the European
Commission, the EC urged enhanced trade capacity within the
PIF Secretariat. End Summary.

2. (U) The Post Forum Dialogue partners which participated
in Niue were China (PRC), Canada, the European Commission,
France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United
States. Taiwan reportedly held concurrent meetings with its
diplomatic partners during the day on August 21 at the resort
where PIF leaders stayed.

Post Forum Dialogue (Mostly) Supports PIF Action on Fiji
--------------------------------------------- -----------

3. (U) Niue Prime Minister Take Talagi opened the August 21
Post Forum Dialogue partners meeting by briefing donors on
the highlights of the Forum Communique, issued on August 20.
As the PIF nears the end of the third year of implementing
the Pacific Plan, progress has been made but challenges
remain for the four pillars (economic growth, sustainable
development, good governance, security). Talagi welcomed New
Zealand's offer to fund a regional experts meeting in October
2008 that will examine the purchase of bulk fuel oil as a
means of reducing energy costs. The Pacific region has had
mixed results in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDG)
but there are synergies between the large (Australia, New
Zealand) and smaller island states that may help --
particularly the financial boost for island economies as a a
result of the employment schemes in Australia and New
Zealand, which are "welcomed and valued," added Talagi. The
Forum has adopted a declaration on climate change, which
affects PICs through sea level rises, coastal erosion and
increased severe weather incidents.

4. (U) On Fiji, PM Talagi noted that the Forum is the
supreme political body in the region and must retain its
credibility and integrity. It was important to send a strong
message to Fiji, consistent with the Bitekawa Declaration
process, that Fiji must honor the principles of democracy,
continued the Niue PM, and return to democracy as quickly as
possible. Talagi said that it is a political threat to the
other countries in the Forum if they appear to condone the
coup in Fiji. The Communique's language on Fiji makes clear
that the PIF does not accept the situation in Fiji and that
decision was taken by all Forum countries, Talagi stressed.

5. (SBU) Most dialogue partners associated themselves with
the Forum's strong statement on Fiji. PDAS Davies observed
that, considering Fiji's actions, the Communique was
balanced, thoughtful, and if anything, restrained. He noted
USG support for the PIF's lead on Fiji. China, Thailand,
Indonesia, India, and the Philippines avoided any mention of
Fiji in their interventions and focused on development

WELLINGTON 00000276 002.2 OF 005

issues; Malaysia urged continued "ASEAN-style" dialogue with
Fiji's Interim Government. Concerning the Millennium
Development Goals, the UK urged the PICs to be present at the
September 25, 2008 MDG meeting in New York at the UN. Canada
noted its continuing technical assistance program in helping
the PICs maintain secure identity documents. France offered
to do more in the region on infrastructure, but noted its
disappointment in the Forum decision to maintain two of its
dependent territories (Wallis and Futuna) as observers rather
than grant them associate member status like French Polynesia
and New Caledonia. As EU President, France promised to use
the European Development Fund for increased environmental
assistance in the Pacific.

6. (U) Indonesia referenced its scholarship programs for
PIF students (66 since 2003) and said that there would be
cultural and media opportunities in 2009 through new Asia
Pacific Partnership programs. India emphasized its training
programs in the region as part of its "look east" strategy
underway since the early 1990s. Future emphasis will be
placed on science/technology cooperation, capacity building
and economic engagement. Korea intends to focus on economic
growth within the region through a newly established
Korean-PIF Cooperation Fund, which will include an
e-government workshop in Korea as part of a three-year pilot
project. China welcomed the socio-economic progress of the
PICs and stated its commitment to assist countries on their
chosen development paths. China offered to step up economic
cooperation and trade links, and use the China-PIF
Cooperation Development Fund to improve human resource
capacity, Pacific Plan activities, and the South Pacific
Regional Environmental Program (SPREP). China promised help
on climate change projects and enhanced support for
sustainable development. PDAS Davies applauded the Forum for
focusing on the right themes in its agenda and welcomed the
opportunity to follow up on Secretary Rice's historic meeting
in Samoa. The European Commission representative noted that
the EC had recently tripled financial support to the region.
In their statements, all countries welcomed the announcement
of Samoan candidate Neroni Slade as the new PIF Secretary

Climate Change

7. (U) Tuvalu Special Envoy Enele Sopoaga outlined PIF
concerns regarding climate change, noting that the region was
tackling its emissions output despite member states being low
emitters. The region hopes to reduce overall emissions by
33% by 2015, but Sopoaga noted that the total carbon
eliminated would only account for a single Clean Development
Mechanism (CDM) project in China. Adaptation remains a key
concern for PICs, which are increasingly formalizing national
action plans for adaptation and successfully seeking
international donor support for mitigation projects. Sopoaga
urged developed nations and large developing economies to
commit to comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. He
singled out the United States, as the world's largest
emitter, for a special plea to implement a legal mechanism
for addressing GHG emissions. The Tuvalu representative
gently chided the international community for continuing to
debate climate change and fund studies when the time has come
for concrete action in the highly vulnerable Pacific region.

8. (SBU) France noted that as the chair of the EU, the
Union wants to be the voice of reason and compromise on
climate change. The EU will try to reorient its development
policies to align with climate change, balance mitigation
measures, promote the rapid development of renewable
technologies, ensure financing is available and assist the
marketplace to disburse those technologies. The European
Commission mentioned that on climate change, the EC would
have deeper dialogue with small island developing states
through the Global Climate Change Alliance. The EC has
provided an additional 3.5 million Euros as budget support to
the Government of Vanuatu, and that money could be used to
support climate change projects. The second area for EC
support is through the National Indicative Cooperation

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Programs, where the EC has 80 million Euros budgeted for
climate change work. China said that at the international
level, its government has urged more financial support on
climate change for LDCs from the developed world.
Bilaterally, China will share its own progress in increasing
the mix of renewable energy with PICs as well as help with
capacity building in this area.

9. (U) Indonesia and India mentioned national climate
change programs and tax incentives that their countries have
adopted and that could be shared with the PICs. The UK is
helping Caribbean countries assess the economic impact of
climate change and would like to extend this work to the
Pacific. The UK also proposed more public-private
partnerships for the region. Japan is promoting its Cool
Earth policy and plans to reduce GHG for Hokkaido by 50% by
2050. Canada noted that it will co-sponsor the draft UNGA
resolution of small island states regarding climate change as
a global threat, will support regional projects through
SPREP, and examine a possible adaptation contribution either
through Kyoto or the World Bank. PDAS Davies associated the
USG with the Tuvalu statement and noted US commitment to
addressing this issue within the UN framework and the major
economies initiative of President Bush. He outlined the
Energy Development for Island Nations (EDIN) initiative of
the U.S. and New Zealand. PM Clark applauded the Australian
government under PM Rudd for signing the Kyoto Protocol,
which allowed the PIF to proceed on climate change in

Energy Security

10. (U) Marshall Islands President Litokwa Tomeing read the
Forum statement on energy security, noting that energy is
critical for economic growth. He urged donor assistance in
increasing the usage of renewable energy as a means of
cutting the crippling costs of imported petroleum products to
PICs. The President welcomed the New Zealand proposal to
consider bulk fuel puchasing. He noted the potential for use
of local crops (coconut, cassava) for biofuel production but
warned that such production would have implications for food
security. A number of donors offered that their economies
had also been affected by the surge in global fuel prices.
China noted that energy security is imperative for economic
growth, sustainable development and social stability. China
is therefore placing greater emphasis on renewables and clean
energy research, not only for China's domestic energy needs,
but also for other developing nations. Some small-scale
projects in China may be relevant to the PICs and China would
look to expand its efforts to the Pacific. Indonesia added
that some its community-based projects may be useful models
for the PICs and offered to share information. New Zealand
emphasized that bulk fuel procurement could help trim PIC
energy budgets, but only by a minor percentage. PM Clark
said that some countries, e.g., Kiribati, will have to
increase domestic fuel storage capacity if bulk procurement
goes forward, and the international financial institutions
may have a role to play vis-a-vis funding necessary

Food Security

11. (U) PNG Foreign Minister Samuel Abal briefed the
dialogue partners on food security issues facing the PICs,
noting that the islands are not self-sufficient producers of
food and increased energy costs translate into increased food
costs due to higher price for food transportation. He noted
that people were reverting to cheaper, less nutritious foods
as a result, and that was compounding already existing health
issues in the Pacific. Food export restrictions by some rice
producing countries had further exacerbated the problem for
the Pacific islands. More support for the agricultural
sector is needed; farmers need access to capital/credit and
technical support. Abal encouraged the PFD partners to work
with regional PIF agencies on food security issues.

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12. (U) The EC and PDAS Davies noted that food security was
an issue worldwide and outlined some of the assistance
programs aimed to help developing countries, including the
PICs, address this issue. Davies commented on USG efforts to
support a Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) seed
bank of indigenous PIC plants. Japan offered that it was the
only G-8 country not self-sufficient in food production,
adding that Japan is helping PNG rice farmers. Thailand,
Indonesia, New Zealand, China, and Italy stressed that the
PICS should focus on increasing local food productivity.


13. (U) Alik Alik, the Vice President of the Federated
States of Micronesia outlined the challenges facing the
Pacific in maintaining fish stocks for future generations.
He lamented the lack of effective conservation and management
measures to sustain tuna stocks, noting that the annual
catches have increased from 1.5 million metric tonnes (MT) in
the 1990s to 2.1 million MT in 2006 with an estimated value
of USD 3 billion. Illegal fishing and the refusal of some
fishing nations to agree to strong monitoring and
surveillance measures threatens the long-term sustainability
of the region's tuna resources. France called for tougher
monitoring and surveillance efforts and highlighted
under-reported catches as an issue. Canada, Korea and the US
underscored their support for the West Central Pacific
Fishing Commission's suggested controls and also urged better
law enforcement and surveillance. Japan questioned the
legality of a recent decision by some PICs to prohibit
foreign fishing vessels from fishing in the international
waters between their EEZs (so-called "donut holes"). PDAS
Davies mentioned the U.S. commitment to pursuing further
shiprider agreements to strengthen enforcement capabilities.

14. (U) Niue PM Talagi closed the session by underscoring
the importance of fisheries to the Pacific. He noted that
all the monitoring mechanisms implemented for other oceans
have ultimately failed, and warned that the Pacific is
approaching a tipping point that could lead to
unsustainability. The PM said that estimates (USD 6 billion)
of the illegal fishing catch are double that of the legal,
reported catch and pointedly observed that some of the
companies conducting illegal fishing in the region are based
in dialogue partner countries. He expressed his hope that
all countries would "be serious" about this issue and not
wait until the Pacific was emptied of its marine resources
similar to the Atlantic or Indian Oceans.

PDAS Davies Bilateral Meetings

15. (SBU) PDAS Davies met separately with the UK, NZ and EC
delegations on the margins of the PFD meeting. He stressed
strong USG support for the Forum Communique and continued US
backing of the PIF in dealing with Fiji. Representatives
from the UK and EC delegations based in Fiji provided Davies
with their assessment of the current internal political
dynamics in Fiji. The EC mentioned the need for enhanced
trade capacity within the PIF Secretariat. In a meeting with
Cook Island and Nauru officials, National Renewable Energy
Laboratory Executive Manager of Integrated Deployment Mary
Werner explained the Energy Development for Island Nation
initiative of the DOE and opportunities for small island
nations in the Pacific to learn more about renewable energy.
PDAS Davies urged the officials to be creative and forwarding
leaning on addressing energy issues, and pledged that the USG
would remain engaged and seek ways to be helpful.

16. (SBU) Davies met in Auckland with New Zealand MFAT CEO
Simon Murdoch on bilateral subjects (septel). He exchanged
views on Fiji with the Australian delegation in an informal
meeting in Niue after the PIF concluded. In a sidebar
conversation with Tongan PM Fred Sevele, Davies urged that
Tonga remain on track toward more open, democratic
parliamentary elections in 2010.

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17. (SBU) Given the infrastructure constraints imposed by
holding such a meeting in Niue, the meeting probably went as
well as expected. However, most interventions comprised "set
piece" lists of assistance programs rather than genuine
dialogue designed to collectively address the serious issues
facing the Pacific. At best, most countries offered promises
to do more but there was little tangible that came out of the
PFD. As the USG delegation departed, a senior New Zealand
MFAT official spoke for a number of other attendees by
observing that the PFD format usefully could be changed for
the next meeting in Australia. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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