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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 13, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase assured the visiting African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) delegation that Fiji would do all it could to ensure a successful summit in July.

In a meeting with ACP General-Secretary Jean-Robert Goulongana, Mr. Qarase said he is pleased the ACP chose Fiji as the venue for such an important meeting.

The 3rd African, Caribbean and Pacific summit precedes the start of trade negotiations between the ACP and the European Union in September.

Expected to attend are 78 Heads of ACP States, a number of non-ACP member countries, as well as several international non-government organizations, a Fiji Ministry of Information news release said.

It is expected to be the largest international summit in Fiji since a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1978.

In all, more than 1000 people are expected to attend the two-day meeting at Nadi in western Fiji.

The ACP group, by virtue of its collective population and geographical scope, has become one championing socio-economic and political issues for developing countries, the news release said.

At the first summit - in Libreville, Gabon in 1997 - the Heads of States and Governments committed themselves to consolidating the political identity of the ACP group. This was to enable it to act and speak with a single voice in all international forums.

At the second summit in Santo Domingo in 1999, the leaders once again committed themselves to constructing a forum for consultation on issues relating to global policy and economy.

At the 4th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, held in Doha last year, the ACP group spoke as a single voice. It highlighted the outcome of discussions of the Libreville and Santo Domingo summits.

The visiting delegation had earlier met with Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Kaliopate Tavola and national organizing committee members.

Members of the ACP delegation included Dr. Pao Luteru, the ACP Assistant Secretary General for Political affairs, and Francois Jackman, ACP Chief of Cabinet.

Fiji’s Ambassador to the European Union, based in Brussels, Isikeli Mataitoga, accompanied the delegation.

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