FIJI’S RATU SIR KAMISESE MARA AT EAST-WEST CENTER IN HONOLULU,PREPARING FOR PACIFIC ISLANDS CONFERENCE OF LEADERS MEETING

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FIJI’S RATU SIR KAMISESE MARA AT EAST-WEST CENTER IN HONOLULU, PREPARING FOR PACIFIC ISLANDS CONFERENCE OF LEADERS MEETING

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (August 15, 2000 – PIDP/EWC)---Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, former President of the Republic of Fiji, has arrived at the Hawai‘i-based East-West Center to assist the Pacific Islands Development Program, on behalf of the Standing Committee of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, prepare for the Leaders’ next meeting.

Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, who is a member of the East-West Center’s Board of Governors and a founding father of the Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program, was asked to undertake the project during a special meeting of the Standing Committee that was held in Honolulu on March 16-17, 2000.

Ratu Mara is accompanied by his daughter, Adi Koila Mara Nailatikau, Special Assistant Mr. Lenard Barrack, and security officer Mr. Tevita Korovou.

Last week, Ratu Mara met with East-West Center President Dr. Charles Morrison, who thanked him for sharing his wealth of knowledge about the Pacific Islands region with Center personnel.

Ratu Mara told President Morrison that the East-West Center continues to have parallel vision with that of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders and its Standing Committee in terms of promoting the "free interchange of information and ideas" between the Leaders and scholars. Ratu Mara noted that community building at the East-West Center is not just about Asia and the United States, rather it is about Asia, the Pacific, and the United States.

The Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, comprised of Heads of State and Government from 21 Pacific Island countries, meets every three years.

The Conference and its Standing Committee provide a regional framework for island Leaders to discuss and exchange views regarding their development goals, ideas, problems, and experiences; identify priority research and training areas in relation to national and international goals; and to expand their dialogue, leading to a better understanding among island Leaders and scholars, as well as between them and supporting governments, international organizations, and agencies.

The Conference determines the relevant development issues around which the East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program organizes its research, dialogue, education and training programs.

Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara currently is holding a series of meetings with the Executive Director of the Pacific Islands Development Program, Dr. Sitiveni Halapua, to identify and clarify the major issues to be discussed at the next meeting of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders.

He said he wanted to ensure that the specific issues to be considered are consistent with the views expressed by the Leaders at their March Standing Committee meeting.

He has proposed to the Leaders that the theme of the meeting be "Pacific People Futures: How Do We Care for Others in Globalization?"

He suggested special areas for Conference deliberation should include the Leaders’ views on how they, as Leaders, share with and care for others in the era of globalization in which development efforts are largely shaped by international market forces. Central to this, he said, is the quality of leadership and governance in the Pacific Islands region.

Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara said he will recommend to the members of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders that the Conference meeting originally planned for this month be postponed and held at the East-West Center January 30-31, 2001.

"We are in the midst of a very difficult time and I hope that this postponement will enable us to take stock and reflect upon the current situations as they are unfolding in our shared region."

The former Fiji President will leave the East-West Center and return to Fiji on August 18.

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