FORMER PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM LEADER DIES

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Greg Urwin, 62, passes away at Samoa home

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Aug. 11, 2008) - Former secretary-general of regional grouping the Pacific Islands Forum, Greg Urwin, has died, the organization confirmed today.

Urwin, 62, had been ill for eight months and resigned in May.

The former Australian diplomat, who had been in charge of the 16-nation body since 2004, died at his home in Samoa on Saturday night.

"The Pacific has lost a leader who had the region at heart," acting forum secretary-general Feleti Teo said in a statement.

"He was a very humble person and very sensitive to many cultures that make up the membership of the Pacific Islands Forum family," Teo said.

Urwin was at the forefront of implementation of the Pacific Plan, a strategy to increase regional cooperation amongst the Pacific’s scattered island States, and had been a strong advocate for smaller island nations, Teo said.

He was first sent to Fiji as Australian High Commissioner before returning home on completion of his term.

Urwin was then appointed to the Pacific Islands Forum job.

Arrangements are under way for a memorial service to be held in Suva while the funeral service will be held later in the week in Apia.

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