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Stronger partnerships with Asia planned

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, March 17, 2008) – The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) will strengthen its commitment to the Pacific after talks in New Caledonia.

The heads of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and leaders and senior ministers from several Pacific island states met with UNESCAP last week.

The meetings were held after Pacific ambassadors to the UN called for stronger support for Pacific island states.

UNESCAP Under-Secretary General, Noeleen Heyzer, says the aim was to listen to Pacific leaders and regional organisations and strengthen partnerships with Asia-based organisations such as ASEAN.

ESCAP says in response, it will strengthen its Pacific Operations Centre in Fiji.

It has also committed to creating opportunities for strengthening the voice of Pacific island states within the United Nations.

Ms Heyzer says Pacific countries are facing unique development challenges that requires looking at new opportunities, including the building of stronger partnerships and closer collaboration between Asia and the Pacific.

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