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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (July 28, 1999 – PACNEWS)---Vanuatu’s Minister for Internal Affairs, Vincent Boulekone, says the Government is committed to working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Boulekone made the comment while opening the Third Council Meeting of the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) in Mele Village, near Port Vila.

"Too often there has been misunderstanding or misconception of the respective roles that Government and NGOs must play in Pacific Island societies," said the Minister responsible for NGOs.

"Too often there has been unnecessary duplication of resources and too often interest groups have capitalized on the apparent lack of dialogue between the Government and NGOs to pursue their own agendas."

He cited the recent signing of an agreement between the Government and PIANGO for Vanuatu to host the PIANGO Secretariat. This, he added, is a good example of the Vanuatu Government's commitment to work with NGOs.

The PIANGO Secretariat recently moved to Vanuatu from Fiji.

Boulekone called on Pacific Island Governments and NGOs to recognize the need to establish closer, more regular and constructive dialogue, and to work together for the betterment of the lives of the people of the region. He said PIANGO, as a regional institution, must be seen to play a facilitating role in this regard.

Fifty national NGO representatives from the Pacific region and Australia, New Zealand and France are attending the weeklong meeting.

PIANGO President Gabriel Tetiarahi from Tahiti, said the meeting will discuss ways of helping NGOs in the region work together more effectively.

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