Melanesian Spearhead Group Chair Welcomed In PNG

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Sogavare, O’Neill discussing regional concerns

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 26, 2016) – PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has welcomed the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare in Port Moresby.

Visiting in his capacity as the current chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Prime Minister Sogavare is making a capital visit.

Mr O’Neill said Papua New Guinea continues to be a strong supporter of the work of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat that is located in Vanuatu, but it is important for the secretariat to evolve and maintain connection to the needs of the people.

"The work of MSG has to stay relevant for the people of the region. Our MSG countries are facing global economic challenges so we are also being very careful with our expenditure.

"MSG must look at its operations and ensure funds are being effectively utilised," he said.

The Prime Ministers also discussed the disaster in Fiji following Cyclone Winston in the past week.

"The disaster from the cyclone in Fiji was widespread, and the region expresses its sympathies for the unfortunate loss of life," PM O’Neill said.

"MSG, as well as the Pacific Islands’ Forum and individual countries, look to requests for assistance that will come from Fiji in the recovery phase of the disaster.

"For Papua New Guinea, we will deliver any support direct to where it is needed, as has been the process with drought relief in Papua New Guinea, instead of sending this through bureaucratic channels."

PM O’Neill said the issue of the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua was discussed.

"As Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and as current Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, I am maintaining ongoing dialogue with the Government of Indonesia and with President Joko Widodo.

"We will continue this dialogue in a respectful manner with a focus on building mutual understanding in relation to safety and security of our millions of Melanesian brothers and sisters across our border."

Prime Minister O’Neill reiterated his invitation to Prime Minister Sogavare to visit Papua New Guinea for the Leaders’ Summit of African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) this year.

"I have invited Prime Minister Sogavare to visit Papua New Guinea at the end of May, with the leaders and delegations of the other 79 ACP member countries."

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