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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Melanesian countries discuss Regional Force

By Chris Leua

Melanesian countries are discussing the possibilities of assembling a regional force.

Chairman of the MSG Trade and Senior Officials Meeting, and Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Affairs Secretary, Gabriel Pepson said the sub regional force would attend to political or natural disasters that may occur within the five Melanesian countries once endorsed in next years MSG Leaders Summit in Vanuatu.

“We have been discussing the possibility of assembling and deploying regional force to attend to unforeseen circumstances, political or natural disasters that may occur within the five countries,” Mr Pepson told local journalists on Friday after the completion of the week-long Trade and Economic and Senior Officials meetings.

He said the assembling of a Melanesian regional force is an important issue being discussed at the MSG Trade and Senior Officials Meeting in Buala because he said a Melanesian regional force attending to political of natural upheavals within the five countries would be more practical and relevant.

“Comparatively, Melanesian countries setting up a regional force is something that we are keen to collaborate on because we understand each other better,” he said.

Citing the Melanesian countries as a regional political hotspot, Mr Pepson said the assembling of a Melanesian regional force would be an example of where the Melanesian Spearhead Group can contribute to stability in the Pacific region or attend to natural calamities.

Mr Pepson said discussions at the Buala meetings also focused on cooperation on the sharing of security information among the countries.
The Melanesian Spearhead Group is looking at changing its name to reflect its changing sub regional role.

“The MSG has come a long way from its initial objective of spearheading the Kanak Independence cause and now embracing wider roles. It has changed dramatically since its conception, now with more focus of economic and security cooperation,” said MSG Senior Officials Meeting Chairman, Gabriel Pepson.

He said MSG now is emerging as a great economic sub regional pact with potentials to engage in international trade negotiations.

But whilst adopting more focuses on trade and security issues, Mr Pepson has earlier said that MSG will remain active in pursuing the political aspirations, in particular the FLNKS political cause achieving complete political independence from France.

Representatives of the FLNKS did not attend the meetings in Buala.

Source: Government Communication Unit

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