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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

US unveils initiatives aimed at courting Pacific leaders

By Mark Simkin

The United States says it wants to improve relations with Pacific nations.

The State Department is calling 2007 'The Year of the Pacific', with more than 20 Pacific leaders in Washington for a triennial conference.

The US has unveiled a range of initiatives aimed at improving regional stability and economic development.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (pictured above) told the meeting of leaders that many islands are facing growing challenges.

"Maintaining security and stability in the Pacific region is crucial to the interests of every country and every territory represented in this room, including the United States," she said.

"The Pacific cannot devolve into an area where strongmen unilaterally decide the fates of their country and destabilise the democratic foundations of their neighbours."

The State Department will open an office in Suva, Fiji to oversee a region-wide program of grants, scholarships and briefings. Officials from Australia will be involved in the regional discussions.

Source: ABC

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