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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Melanesian Spearhead Group members plan to establish special force to fight regional issues

By Peter Korugl

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) security workshop in Lae, Papua New Guinea, ended last Thursday after resolving the framework that will see the establishment of a special force to fight, among other issues, terrorism and human smuggling in the region.

The workshop also finalised and endorsed a concept paper for information sharing between the MSG countries. They are Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

“It is now up to the member governments to look at the recommendations that are made from this workshop,” Timothy Sisi of the MSG Interim Secretariat said.

“The MSG member governments will decide whether or not to accept the recommendations. It is not for this workshop to do that.”

High ranking military, police and foreign affairs officials from PNG, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji gathered for the three-day workshop to finalise the frameworks that should give birth to the sub regional force and pave the way for the these countries to share information.

Last Tuesday, the participants heard presentations from PNG Defence Force Commander Commodore Peter Ilau and Fiji police commissioner commodore Esala Teleni, as well as those from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, PNG and Fiji and developed the concept paper on the framework for information sharing.

The security concept paper was deliberated and the framework developed in the later part of Wednesday and Thursday.

The workshop ended with a dinner hosted by PNG Defence Secretary Fred Punangi, who at the start of the meeting, said the outcome of the workshop would lay the foundation for the Melanesian people to secure a greater identity, which was their source of pride and strength.

“We need to reflect back to appreciate how and why our traditional societies were relatively calm, peaceful and living in harmony. It is because they were unselfish and communal in nature. They shared information and collectively pursued security issues to protect each other,” he said.

Source: National

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