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Minister hosts Heads of Overseas Missions meeting

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 26, 2012) – The Vanuatu Government is planning to open two missions-one in Jakarta, Indonesia and another in Canberra, Australia, this year.

Plans are also in the pipeline to appoint a High Commissioner to the Vanuatu Embassy in Suva.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfred Carlot revealed this when he opened Vanuatu’s 3rd Heads of Overseas Missions (HOMs) meeting at the Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Training Centre yesterday morning.

Putting forward some broad Government policy directions on Foreign relations minister Carlot said, "the government recognises the need to maintain bilateral and multilateral presence in areas you are serving in today but at the same time we also want to strengthen bilateral, multilateral representations and increase interaction with countries we have ties with to establish ties abroad.

"The government has a strong interest in Trade, Tourism and Investments. In the social sector there is a need for our missions to negotiate strongly and secure additional fully funded scholarship opportunities for ni-Vanuatu overseas."

The minister said it is important for all delegates to listen to the briefings of the HOMs and representatives.

"The HOMs are accountable to the government of the people of Vanuatu through process like this meeting which gives an opportunity to the government to see how the missions are promoting national interest and to assist in growing the economy and promoting development.

"We need to look beyond our challenges and find the strength to collectively deliberate the best way the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can conduct the international affairs of Vanuatu with integrity and dignity," he said.

Yesterday morning the media were disappointed when advised by the Foreign Affairs DG that it was a ‘closed door’ session and they could not sit in the annual briefings of Vanuatu’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Donald Kalpokas, Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the Republic of China, Willie Jimmy and the other distinguished delegates.

[PIR editor’s note: Radio New Zealand International reported that the media was ‘puzzled’ by why they were first invited to the meeting and then asked to leave. President of the Media Association of Vanuatu Evelyn Toa said being asked to leave the meeting "gave us the impression that maybe they want to hide issues that are critical to our people and our nation."]

The two day meeting ends this afternoon.

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