SOUTH PACIFIC FORUM SECRETARIAT

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Suva, Fiji Islands

PRESS STATEMENT December 23, 1999

AGREEMENT FOR SECOND SOUTH PACIFIC FORUM-JAPAN SUMMIT IN APRIL 2000

The Chairman of the South Pacific Forum, His Excellency President Kuniwo Nakamura of Palau has just concluded a successful visit to Japan with an agreement that the second SPF-Japan Summit will be held in April 2000.

Every year the Japanese Government invites the SPF Chairman to visit Japan to discuss issues of common interest and to agree on ways of promoting better relations between Japan and members of SPF.

President Nakamura had an audience with His Majesty Emperor Akihito and met with Prime Minister Obuchi. The President also met with the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Kono and the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Tamazawa. The opportunity was also taken to meet key parliamentarians and leaders from the private sector and key statutory bodies.

The main issue discussed during President Nakamura's visit was the proposed Second Summit between the Leaders of Japan and the South Pacific Forum.

The first summit was held in 1997 and the Forum at its last meeting in Palau had responded positively to a suggestion of a second summit to be held in 2000.

The meeting between President Nakamura and Prime Minister Obuchi concluded with the announcement that the Summit will be held on April 22, 2000 in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is expected that Prime Minister Obuchi will chair the Summit, which will be officially called the Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 2000).

Issues that are expected to be on the Summit agenda include the sustainable development of the Pacific Islands, common concerns in the global and regional arena, and future partnerships between Japan and the SPF.

President Nakamura will be consulting other SPF Leaders further to brief them on the outcomes of his visit and to ensure a successful Summit. The Forum Secretariat will be liaising closely with the Chairman and other SPF members and the Japanese government on Summit arrangements.

"The Summit, coming in the first year of the new millennium", said President Nakamura, "offers a marvelous opportunity for the SPF and Japan to revitalize old friendships and to foster new partnerships that can assist us, in the South Pacific Forum, to deal with the challenges of living as small and vulnerable states in this age of rapid global changes." The SPF Chairman said he wants to ensure the Summit results in higher levels of cooperation between Japan and SPF members.

Other issues discussed during President Nakamura's visit included common interests in fisheries and trade and investment and tourism. The Forum's position on issues such as climate change and sea level rise, environment protection, and security concerns, including the transportation of nuclear materials, were also raised.

"In my discussions", said President Nakamura, "I stressed that Japan had a real interest in the Pacific Islands, in fisheries, trade and investment and tourism, and environment, and that we should work together to ensure that these were pursued in ways that were beneficial to both sides."

The President also said that it is important for partners like Japan who are also big players in the global arena to appreciate that while small and vulnerable island states can do much to improve their own lot, they will continue to need special and differential treatment if they are to have a fair chance of surviving the "uneven playing fields" of the new global economy.

"We want to foster partnerships that are based on shared interests and a sense of fair play", said the President.

The Chairman was accompanied during his visit by the Acting Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat, Mr. Iosefa Maiava.

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