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The Secretary General of the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, Mr. Noel Levi, CBE, has welcomed the inclusion of all fourteen Forum Island Countries into a special aid and trade agreement with the European Union.

This follows meetings of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers and the Joint ACP-EU Council of Ministers in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.

The Ministers agreed to admit the six remaining Forum Island Country states (Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue and Palau) as full members of the ACP grouping. Previously, only eight FICs were members (Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu).

With this decision, all the FICs are now eligible to sign the Partnership Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Community and its Member States, this week in Cotonou. On signing the Partnership Agreement they will be eligible for aid and trade concessions under what was known as the Lomé Convention.

The Secretary General, in welcoming the decision, thanked the African and Caribbean members of the ACP and the EU for including all the Forum Island Country states in this very important agreement.

The Secretary General said that the Prime Minister of Samoa and Chairman of the Pacific ACP Group, Hon. Malielegaoi Tuilaepa Sailele, had been particularly supportive of the efforts to gain admission by the six Forum Island Countries.

"We also wish to thank the eight original Pacific members of the ACP for strongly supporting the inclusion of the other six members, as well as the assistance provided by the EU Delegate for the Pacific based in Fiji," Mr. Levi said.

"This reflects the spirit of cooperation in the Forum region and the willingness of members to share resources. I am confident that the region will continue to display this level of goodwill and solidarity in future," he said.

The Forum Secretariat had coordinated the submission of the applications by the six new members and worked closely with Pacific Island ambassadors in Brussels and London to ensure an early and favorable decision at the Ministerial meetings.

For additional information, contact: Ulafala Aiavao at 

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