TUILAEPA HAILS PACIFIC-U.S. TUNA TREATY, OPENS RENEGOTIATION

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APIA, Samoa (March 25, 2001 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi opened important regional fisheries talks in Apia this week with praise for the treaty being renegotiated.

Negotiations for renewal of the multilateral treaty between the United States and the 16 Pacific Islands Forum States is among issues being discussed at the 13th Annual Treaty Consultation Meeting.

It is being held at Apia's Kitano Tusitala Hotel.

During his keynote address, Tuilaepa stressed that the treaty is the only one of its kind in the world.

This multilateral treaty enables the 16 Pacific Islands Forum States to get $US 18 million a year in order for American purse seiners to fish in exclusive economic zones containing the world’s richest tuna stock.

According to Tuilaepa, the treaty has benefited both parties over the past 13 years. The treaty was officially signed in 1988.

He said: "The political relationship between Pacific Island countries has matured into a partnership that has provided impetus to a more comprehensive fisheries conservation and management regime."

Tuilaepa then urged the parties involved to base their consultations on goodwill and the spirit of friendship.

"All parties are agreed that, everything considered, it has been a good treaty and ought to be renewed. I hope your talks will be based on understanding, respect for one another and fairness."

The 16 Pacific Islands Forum countries taking part are: Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

On a final note, the Prime Minister invited the delegates to take time out and explore the beauty Samoa has to offer.

The meeting concludes on Thursday.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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