MELANESIAN SPEARHEAD GROUP SETS AGENDA

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SUVA, Fiji (July 21, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) officials are meeting today to set an agenda for Wednesday's meeting of foreign ministers, to be followed by the leaders' meeting Thursday and Friday.

Officials' meeting chairman and Fiji foreign secretary Dr. Ahmed Ali said a major issue to be discussed today is the frequency of MSG meetings, which currently are held annually.

Ali says there will be a briefing from the Papua New Guinea delegation on Bougainville and thirdly the FLNKS representative from New Caledonia has requested time to present a report on MSG economic cooperation.

Monday's officials' meeting covered a number of trade and economic issues.

Ali said the representatives discussed such issues such as improving shipping in the region and reexamination of a free trade arrangement for MSC countries.

 

FIJI GOVERNMENT BUDGETS $US 50,000 FOR MSG MEETING

The Fiji government has budgeted $F 100,000 ($US 50,000) for the cost of hosting this week's Melanesian Spearhead Group meetings in Suva and the Coral Coast.

According to Dr. Ali, $F 40,000 ($US 20,000) was donated by the Taiwanese Trade Mission.

The Fiji government also hosted last year's MSG meeting, in Savusavu onVanua Levu island.

 

PNG PM SKATE NOT ATTENDING MSG SUMMIT

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate will not attend the Melanesian Spearhead Meeting in order to devote full attention to relief work for his countrymen devastated by Friday's massive Sepik-area tidal wave, resulting in an estimated 3,000 deaths.

Papua New Guinea will be represented at the MSG summit by Deputy Prime Minister Michael Nali.

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