29 Aug 2012

Hillary Clinton to attend Pacific Forum

12:14 pm on 29 August 2012

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands this week, her office has confirmed.

Mrs Clinton will lead the highest-level US delegation in the forum's history, accompanied by senior officials from the Departments of State, Defence, and Interior.

Her attendance, widely speculated for weeks, was confirmed by spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Wednesday.

Ms Nuland said the Secretary of State would attend the post-forum dialogue on 31 August "as part of our intensive engagement and ongoing collaboration with the Pacific Islands."

Prime Minister John Key and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard were on Wednesday flying to Rarotonga for the forum. Both leaders were expected to have bilateral talks with Mrs Clinton, AAP reports.

Mr Key said earlier that if Mrs Clinton attended he would be likely to meet her and would cover a range of topics from Afghanistan to the situation in the United States where elections are due in November.

Mrs Clinton's attendance at the forum comes as part of a wider trip to Indonesia, China, East Timor, Brunei, and Russia. She will also lead the US delegation to the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Vladivostok on 8 and 9 September.