U.S. FREELY ASSOCIATED STATES PRESIDENTS MULL CREATION OF NEW PACIFIC

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REGIONAL ORGANIZATION

By Bernadette H. Carreon For Variety

KOROR, Palau (August 5, 2002 - Palau Horizon/Marianas Variety)---The presidents of the Freely Associated States are considering the establishment of a new body that will include only Pacific island countries and not Australia or New Zealand, as do the Pacific Island Forum and the Pacific Community.

During the presidents’ summit held here last week, Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Marshalls President Kessai Note and Federated States of Micronesia President Leo Falcam also discussed who should be the next secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The three leaders will meet again prior to the next annual meeting of the Forum.

The three presidents, moreover, agreed to separately and jointly press the United States for an opinion from the Department of State regarding the most favored nation clause in their respective Compacts with America.

The three leaders said if the United States were to invoke the clause upon the ratification of the Forum trade agreements, it would result in reduced revenue from imported U.S. goods.

Concerns were also raised regarding the current focus of the Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific group of nations and the Forum toward trade issues rather than economic development.

The presidents said trade is not the primary issue for the FAS in the context of the Cotonou Agreement. The leaders said economic development should be the focus for the FAS.

The three leaders said they will push for greater emphasis on economic partnership with the European Union. The presidents at the same time noted "difficulties" in gaining priority treatment under the Cotonou Agreement.

The agreement has several clauses requiring special treatment related to the unique circumstances of islands states and small economies. The presidents said the unique issues of the Pacific islands should be considered and not only those of the Caribbean.

The three leaders agreed that climate change remains a priority concern in the region.

The Kyoto Protocol, which implements the climate change convention, is near implementation, requiring ratification of countries producing 55 percent of all greenhouse gases.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.

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