14 Aug 2003

Small island states want Pacific Islander as Forum head

4:16 pm on 14 August 2003

Small island states say the position of secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum should go to a Pacific Islander.

This comes as Australia has nominated a candidate along with Samoa, Tonga and Nauru to succeed Noel Levi of Papua New Guinea.

The small island state group has also expressed concern at the lack of progress in the big issues affecting its members.

Don Wiseman reports

"Ahead of this weekend's Forum leaders' meeting the small islands states chair Dr Robert Woonton says they remain frustrated at the lack of progress in solving the small island states' aviation worries and the effects that climatic conditions have on them. Saufatu Sopoanga, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, says there is a lack of commitment from other nations to solving the problems. He says they want the Forum to consider how they can source funding to confront the issues. On the secretary generalship, Dr Woonton says the best interests of the Pacific will be served by a Pacific Islander, not Australian nominee Greg Irwin. Dr Woonton says the states support the suggestion of a permanent ready reaction or intervention force but says it would need to be seen to be multilateral that issues of sovereignty would need to be solved."