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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 27) – The Pacific Islands Forum has issued a communiqué at the last day of its summit in Papua New Guinea.

The leaders have adopted the Pacific Plan on regional cooperation but they have not agreed to labour mobility, which was a key wish of the poorer countries.

But New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Helen Clark, says the endorsement of the Pacific Plan will boost the development of some of the smallest and poorest countries in the world.

The statement makes no mention of the conflict in the Indonesian province of Papua, whose supporters lobbied for it to be admitted as an observer.

The Forum has admitted Tokelau as an observer and Australia and New Zealand have boosted its trust fund.

The French territories are being given associated membership, which was not accorded to Timor Leste because of its conflicting bid to join ASEAN.

Meanwhile the Council of International Development in New Zealand says it is disappointed that the voices of the people seem to have been ignored by the Pacific Islands Forum.

CID Director Rae Julian was part of a group of NGOs, which met before the leaders’ summit to compile a civil society communiqué that was given to the Forum Secretary-General.

However Ms Julian says the Forum Communiqué doesn’t even acknowledge receipt of their recommendation to slow the process of the Pacific Plan.

She says the lack of proper consultation means many people on the ground will find it hard to buy into the plan.

"It’ll be implemented from the top. The leaders will no doubt go ahead and do it but how effective will it really be? Our fear is that it’ll just be another piece of paper to be added to all the other pieces of paper that get produced on a regular basis around the world and nothing really substantive will happen to tackle the real issues that we were made very aware of."

Tonga will host the Forum next year.

October 28, 2005

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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