15 Oct 2007

Tonga's capital spruced up for leaders' meeting and emergency restricted area extended

6:18 am on 15 October 2007

The leaders of most of the 16 nations making up the Pacific Islands Forum have now arrived in Tonga for their summit beginning tomorrow.

As Don Wiseman reports, the Tonga capital, the scene of violent rioting 11 months ago, has been spruced up for the event.

"The town is very tidy. It's bedecked with welcome banners. Everything that needed a lick of paint has got it. But the signs of the riot are everywhere still apparent - not least the stark concrete pads, which mark the sites of the blazes that wrecked much of the CBD. As well, a state of emergency imposed just after the riots and restricting access to parts of Nuku'alofa , was extended again on Friday and now covers a greater area than before. Most of the Forum activities will occur within this cordoned-off zone, and only those with accreditation are let past the barriers and road spikes. First up today the leaders of the six Pacific countries which are classified as Small Island States meet. They will be developing common positions on the critical concerns for them - climate change, transport, fuel costs and the difficulties posed by a lack of capacity, to work on programmes such as the Forum's Pacific Plan. Later today the Pacific members of the African Caribbean Pacific group of nations that receive assistance from the EU will meet, amid growing tension over the EU's insistence they sign Economic Partnership Agreements by the end of the year ."