31 Jul 2003

350 delegates to attend Forum leaders meeting in Auckland

4:18 pm on 31 July 2003

The Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit to be held next month in Auckland, will be the biggest for some time, with up to 350 delegates attending.

Nearly two hundred journalists are also expected to cover the event.

The summit is expected to focus on security issues, particularly the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, and a regional policing strategy being promoted by Australia.

There is likely to be discussion on how the Forum can improve its ability to function and respond to the stresses in the region, while Australia has indicated it wants the organisation to look at pooled regional governance.

The leaders will also announce the new secretary general to replace Papua New Guinea's Noel Levi.

It will also decide whether the tiny island of Niue has the capacity to host the 2004 Forum or to hold the Forum every second year at its Fiji headquarters.

Other issues to be discussed include the progress of the recently implemented Pacific Islands Countries Trade Agreement, or PICTA, HIV/AIDs, climate change and sea level rise, and regional air services.