The new chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group says the West Papuan bid to join the group must be handled carefully so as not to disrupt the group's unity.
The spokesman for New Caledonia's FLNKS movement, Victor Tutugoro, accepted the MSG chairmanship from Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama last night at the 19th MSG leaders summit in Noumea.
The issue dominating the summit is the formal application for MSG membership by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation.
Mr Tutugoro echoed statements from meetings of the MSG Senior officials and Foreign Ministers ahead of this summit, that a decision on the application will be deferred.
His words are translated:
"We have thought about it within the SOM (senior officials meeting) and the FMM (Foreign Ministers Meeting). We must be careful on our side for the unity of the MSG."