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Pacific LeadersPlace Focus On COVID-19Vaccine, SelectHenry Puna AsNew Secretary General

Forum HQ, Suva, FIJI–PacificIslandsForumLeadershave concluded their Special Leaders Retreat overnight and haveannounced Henry Puna asthe incoming Secretary General.Alsoon the agendaof the Special Leaders Retreatwasthe COVID-19pandemic, including the distribution of vaccines to the region.

Leaders acknowledgedthe region’s efforts to date to manage the spread of the COIVD-19 pandemic in the Pacific region, including through the establishment and operationalisation of the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19.

Leaders also welcomed the significant support from Australia and New Zealandto secure vaccines for all Pacific peopleandthe multilateral and bilateral partnershipsworkingto ensureonehundred percent coverage.

“Leaders discussed the complexities facing the Pacific region at this time in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and including the ongoing threat of climate change and the increasing geostrategic competition in the region,” saidForum ChairandPrime MinisterofTuvalu, Hon.KauseaNatano. Puna assumes the position of Secretary General at acritical time in the region’s history and will need to guide the region through the COVID-19 recovery.

The appointment also signals the conclusion of the tenure of the incumbent Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor. “Leaders commended her stellar leadership and guidance to the Pacific Islands Forum on regional issues over the past 6 years and wished her well in her future endeavours.”

The Special Leaders Retreatdiscussions began with reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the region. Leaders reaffirmed that the wellbeing of the Pacific people remain their highest priority and emphasised the importance of the equitable distribution of safe and effective vaccines intheregion.

Apost-retreat press conferencewill beheld onThursday 4 February at 12pm.Media who have not yet registered are invited to

The Special Leaders’ Retreat Decisionswill beissuedin due course.

© Scoop Media

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