BIG TURNOUT EXPECTED AT ANNUAL FORUM MEETING

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Vanuatu to host 400 delegates

By Godwin Ligo PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 3, 2010) - Vanuatu will host the 41st Pacific Forum meeting that has been scheduled to take place in August 3-6 this year in Port Vila.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Joe Natuman, said this meeting will see the participation of over 400 regional and international delegates.

The Forum Committee of Officials will meet shortly at the Forum Secretariat in Suva Fiji to prepare the agenda for the Port Vila meeting.

Natuman said in a press conference last week that, this is the second time that Vanuatu is hosting the Pacific Forum meeting; the first was in 1999.

He said the date for the 41st Meeting of the Forum was chosen to coincide with Vanuatu’s 30th anniversary celebrations- to allow the regional and international delegates to be part of the celebrations preceding the Forum Meeting.

The foreign minister confirmed that there will be a series of meetings apart from the Forum Meeting itself. He said smaller island nations such as Niue, Kiribati and Tuvalu will dialogue on issues in relation to the size and population of their countries and other related issues before the Forum proper.

Then there will be the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Meeting and then the Forum Leaders Meeting followed by a retreat for the Pacific Leaders A special communiqué will be issued at the end of the retreat by the Forum leaders on the outcome of the Forum.

The Forum Meeting will conclude with a meeting with the Post-Forum meeting with partners which include countries and international organizations such as the European Union, UK, France, USA, China and other countries, and the United Nations and its agencies including United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and other international donor partners.

Natuman who chairs the Vanuatu Task Force committee in the preparations leading up to the 41st Forum Meeting said there will be plenary sessions and so the country will be busy to ensure security during both the celebrations and the Forum.

He said: "The 41st Forum will expand dialogue on major regional and international issues confronting not only the Pacific region today, but also the entire globe such as the worrying global warming, peace and security, trade and much more," he said.

Asked what the total budget of the Forum Meeting is, Natuman said "300 million vatu [US$3.1 million] has been allocated for both the Forum and the Independence celebrations."

The Independence celebration has been allocated 60 million vatu [US$613,000]. The Vanuatu Foreign Affairs Minister also confirmed that there will be VIPs from other countries that will be invited to attend the Independence celebrations.

On the question of the theme for the 41st Forum Meeting, Natuman said Vanuatu is working on selecting and appropriate theme that will flow with all current regional and global issues that the regional and international communities are facing in this millennium.

Natuman also confirmed that 14 partner countries and organizations will be in Port Vila for the Partner Dialogue, explaining that this is the time when Pacific Forum members will move through the corridors of these international organizations and agencies and countries to seek assistance and support in bilateral issues and other assistance.

On the question of Fiji’s membership to the Forum, Natuman said Fiji remains suspended from the Forum since the Port Moresby Meeting in 2009.

He said, the Forum has established a ministerial contact group to report back to the Forum on Fiji’s situation and, confirmed that Vanuatu has and is always committed to assist Fiji towards resolving its internal political situation.

He also confirmed that Vanuatu as a host country will chair the 41st Forum Meeting with Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Edward Natapei as the chair.

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