26 May 2008

Relations with Fiji under discussion by officials ahead of MSG summit

5:47 am on 26 May 2008

Meetings of Melanesian Spearhead Group Senior Officials continue today in Vanuatu's capital Port Vila.

The meetings, which began last week, are a precursor to tomorrow's Foreign Ministers meeting and the 17th MSG leaders summit later in the week.

While trade discussions are a focus of the meetings, the MSG will look to address some pressing political issues, including relations with Fiji.

From Port Vila, Jonny Blades has more:

"Two key political issues expected to be discussed are how the MSG will engage with Fiji's Military regime on its commitment to a return to democracy; as well as the question of whether West Papuans of Indonesia should be granted observer status. However from the officials meetings so far, a renewed emphasis has surfaced on furthering trade ties between the Melanesian countries. Delegates say these ties are all the more important now that member countries are in crucial negotiations with the European Union over economic partnership agreements.; Meanwhile, the MSG is due to choose who will head their new secretariat building in the Vanuatu capital which will be officially opened this week."