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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 12) – Delegates from across the Pacific met in Kosrae November 27-29 for the 48th Board of Directors meeting of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, according to the association’s news release.

"We are honored by such wonderful hospitality," said Walden Weilbacher of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures secretariat. "Our delegates were overwhelmed by the graciousness of our host. Kosrae really rolled out the red carpet for Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, and we are very thankful to Kosrae for this."

[PIR editor’s note: Kosrae, one of the four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia, is located at the eastern extremity of the FSM and south of the Marshall Islands. The other three FSM states are Yap, Chuuk, and Pohnpei.]

Delegates of the 10 member nations spent two days discussing a variety of issues, including humanitarian efforts in the region, tobacco's effects on the health of Pacific islanders, soil conservation efforts, how climate changes are dramatically affecting the ecosystem of various islands, and economic growth spurred by rural development loans, the news release stated.

"These topics of our discussions are pivotal in the future of Pacific islanders," said Sabino Sauchomal, president of Association of Pacific Island Legislatures. "Our delegates are taking home valuable information, which we anticipate will prompt policy changes. The gathering also reinforced members' commitment to harmonizing their collective voices for the betterment of the region."

The next general assembly of Association of Pacific Island Legislatures will be held on Guam in May 2008. Association of Pacific Island Legislatures treasurer Guam Sen. Judith Won Pat asked that the meeting cover the issue of militarization in the region.

"The Pacific islands can gain a lot if we position ourselves to benefit from this," she said. "We can employ our people and protect our environment at the same time, so we should dialogue with the military now."

Aren Palik, the president and chief executive officer of the Pacific Islands Development Bank, updated the organization on its status.

"Pacific Islands Development Bank continues to expand its lending program and other technical support to its members," Palik said. "We have many successful projects and have helped lots of small businesses to thrive."

Pacific Islands Development Bank was created by a resolution of Association of Pacific Island Legislatures in 1987, during its meeting in American Samoa. The bank serves all member countries that have made the initial equity contribution of $1 million.

Carlotta Leon Guerrero, former president of Association of Pacific Island Legislatures and the executive director of Ayuda Foundation, briefed the delegates on global warming and its effects on Lekinioch atoll in the Mortlocks chain in Chuuk.

"Pacific islanders have done the least to cause global warming and are the first to suffer from it," Leon Guerrero said. "Lekinioch reached out to Ayuda Foundation, and we responded with relief supplies and support."

Delegates also tackled the sensitive issue of membership and participation in Association of Pacific Island Legislatures.

"Association of Pacific Island Legislatures must move forward, and we should know if the Marshall Islands still want to participate in this regional body," said Yap State Legislature Speaker Charles C. Chieng.

The Republic of the Marshall Islands has not sent a delegation to the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures meetings for more than five years.

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