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By Pita Ligaiula in Apia, Samoa
Security issues in the Northern Pacific have forced Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau not to attend this week’s Forum Leaders Meeting in Samoa.
The recent threat by North Korea to launch four intermediate ballistic missiles near Guam and U.S plans to install radar in the Pacific nation highlighted Palau’s strategic military value in the region.
President Remengesau is travelling to Japan to discuss security issues with the U.S allies on the looming threats posed by North Korea.
Instead, his Vice President Raynold Oilouch is representing Palau at the Forum Leaders Meeting.
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor confirmed to PACNEWS, Remengesau will not be attending the meeting in Apia.
When asked about the Pacific preparedness in dealing with security threats, Dame Meg said the Pacific has no military capabilities to defend itself from North Korea’s threats.
“As Pacific countries we don’t have the capacity to be prepared in terms of military. But we do know that some of the bigger countries who are members of the Forum are monitoring the situation very closely. We do know of the tracking station in Kwajalein. We’ve heard of what’s possibly happening in Palau.
“As a regional grouping I think we can’t be prepared because we haven’t got the resources or the means of militarisation to be prepared,” Dame Taylor said.
Forum Deputy Secretary General Cristelle Pratt said across the world, the Pacific are witnessing a rise in nationalism, protectionism and an apparent decline in support for multilateralism as well.
“We are seeing potential security risks emerging for the Pacific due to current tensions around the Pacific Rim such as between the US and North Korea.
“Inequality continues to deepen across the globe and in the Pacific too, which potentially gives rise to economic, social and political instability,” DSG Pratt said.
Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (PIANGO) board chairwoman, Sarah Thomas – Nedegog said they live with the threats from North Korea every day.
“Certainly as a person born in Guam we are the supposed strategic location of the U.S in the Pacific and sometimes you don’t really know what that means until you get a threat, like North Korea sees us as a great starter for them in their attacks to the U.S.
“We live with that threat every day. There is not an hour that goes by that I don’t think of what can be happening to my island and whatever happens to Guam affects the Pacific.
The security threats by North Korea is expected to be raised by Forum member states at the Leaders Meeting.
North Korea said on Sunday it has developed a more advanced nuclear weapon that has “great destructive power”.
The report by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency comes amid heightened regional tension following Pyongyang’s test launch of two ICBM-class missiles in July that potentially had a range of about 10,000 km that could hit many parts of the mainland United States.
Experts and officials have said North Korea could conduct its sixth nuclear test at any time, and that the reclusive country has maintained a readiness at its nuclear test site to conduct another detonation test at any time.
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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