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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 17, 1997 - PACNEWS)--- Papua New Guinea's candidate for the South Pacific Forum Secretary General's position, Noel Levi, has expressed confidence in winning over his two rivals from Fiji and Samoa.

Levi says that he is satisfied PNG's lobbying team, which visited the smaller island states a week prior to the 28th South Pacific Forum meeting now underway in the Cook Islands, did a good job in obtaining support for PNG.

He added that PNG has the backing of the Melanesian Spearhead Group despite their being two Melanesian candidates, and he is confident that this would not cause a split among the Forum leaders when they select the final candidate for the position later this week.

Levi's rivals are Fiji's National Planning Minister, Filipe Bole, and Samoa's Ambassador to the United Nations, Neroni Slade.

The current Secretary General of the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, former Kiribati President Ieremia Tabai, retires from his term in office in December.

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