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Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has welcomed the Pacific African Caribbean and Pacific (PACP) Leaders’ decision Wednesday in Port Moresby to establish a PACP Secretariat in Papua New Guinea in a major break-through to keep Fiji in the PACP family.
And PM Lilo stamped his mark at the meeting when he offered Solomon Islands interest to provide a deputy director general for the proposed PACP Secretariat. PNG as host will provide the director general.
A statement from the PM’s office said leadership by the two Melanesian neighbours helped to ease tension during the discussion on Fiji at the PACP Leaders meeting.
In a historic decision, all 13 PACP Leaders unanimously agreed to Fiji’s return to the PACP family, after its three year exclusion. Leaders agreed that Fiji participate at all levels of PACP related meetings
On the proposed Secretariat, PM Lilo endorsed its establishment as members need to fully participate and not be questioned, as was the case when the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat managed such meetings.
According to the Solomon Islands Leader, the Suva-based Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat will continue to negotiate the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, on behalf of Pacific ACP countries.
He said it was not correct to keep Fiji out of the regional negotiations with the EU when the Pacific nation was a member of the ACP Group. Fiji is also the business hub of the Pacific.
Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama also attended the meeting and expressed gratitude at the acceptance of his country at the meeting.
Leaders also discussed the on-going negotiations of the EPA agreement with the EU. They noted the outcomes of the Pacific ACP-EU EPA Joint Technical Working Group meeting held from 1-5 October 2012 and the proposed schedule of the meetings to complete the EPA negotiations.
The EPA negotiations with the EU are expected to conclude in 2013.
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS
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