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Monday, March 05, 2007

New Zealand MPs to convene inquiry into relations with Pacific countries including Solomon Islands

A committee of New Zealand Members of Parliament will hold a wide-ranging inquiry into New Zealand's relationships with South Pacific countries.

Parliament's foreign affairs, defence and trade committee released a statement on Friday last week announcing the inquiry.

Green Party MP Keith Locke, a committee member, said on Friday he had sought the inquiry with the aim of looking into how a sustainable economic base could be created for Pacific nations.

"I was particularly concerned about the unsustainability in many of the economies in the Pacific. I think we can see in Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and elsewhere that mayhem can develop and will continue to develop unless there's a solid economic foundation," he said.

Related issues he expected to be discussed include trade, governance and aid.

The inquiry's formal terms of reference include:
- identifying New Zealand's key interests and responsibilities in the Pacific;
- identifying strategic threats to New Zealand's relationship with Pacific Forum members;
- looking at how New Zealand can advance its relationships in the region and promote sustainable economic development;
- identify strategic objectives for New Zealand aid and the appropriate level and type of aid.


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