25 Oct 2005

Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit now underway

9:10 pm on 25 October 2005

The 36th Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit has got underway in Papua New Guinea.

A ceremony in Sir John Guise park in Port Moresby featuring cultural events from each of the 20 provinces in PNG ushered in the summit.

Don Wiseman reports from Port Moresby.

"The forum kicked off with speeched from the outgoing chairman, the prime minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Sailele and the interim chairman, Sir Michael Somare, the prime minister of Papua New Guinea. Sir Michael was very clear about his support for the Pacific Plan. In his speech he said, ' Member states of the Pacific Island Forum will need to develop new strategies, new responses and new partnerships to the new challenges that they face' and he says 'we've decided the Pacific Plan is the appropriate vehicle for this purpose. Just how the Pacific Plan will be implemented, how it will be paid for and these issues, more about that will be revealed over the next couple of days. Sir Michael, in his speech, talked of the Kalabobo Road Map. Kalabobo is a place in Madang and that is where the leaders are going to go to their semi-private retreat where they are away from the prying eyes of the media or most of them anyway. On Thursday there's the pleniary session here in Port Moresby at which stage there will be an official signing, or at least it's expected that there will be an official signing of the Pacific Plan. In Port Moresby, at the opening ceremony of the Forum, I'm Don Wiseman."