THE 21st Melanesian Spearhead Group Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) concluded in Port Moresby on Tuesday with a number of decisions to be considered by Leaders, who will convene today for their Retreat.
The MSG Secretariat in Port Vila, Vanuatu had undergone a major review exercise in 2017 with the revision of its Corporate Plan, which is now reduced from five to three years to correspond with the term of the Director General, who will lead the implementation of the Plan.
Foreign Affairs Ministers from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and FLNKS were presented with reports on the 2017 National Elections in Papua New Guinea, Report on the 3rd MSG Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and UN Programme of Action (UnPoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SAWL) Workshop, Report on MSG Roadmap for Inshore Fisheries and the Status of the Signing of the MSG Trade Agreement.
The Ministers also received an Update from the FLNKS on the 2018 Referendum for Self-Determination.
Opening the 21st Foreign Ministers Meeting, Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Mr Rimbink Pato said PNG’s assumption of the chairmanship of the MSG comes at a significant year for the host country – when it will host the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in November this year.
“It’s not only a special year for PNG but for Melanesia and the Pacific. It will be the first APEC in PNG and the sub-regional group. The eyes of the world will be on PNG and the sub-regional group.
“APEC will bring heads of Asian Pacific countries, leaders of the world’s most populous countries from China to Russia, the United States and our long standing friends from Japan and Indonesia and our Commonwealth friends of Australia and Canada,” said Mr Pato.
He urged his fellow counterparts from the MSG sub-regional group to use the strength gained from its solidarity in the past 30 years as a group to advance a positive and prosperous agenda for the region and to be mindful of the changes taking place that have shaped the geopolitics of the region.
The MSG Foreign Ministers present at the meeting are Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Hon. Rimbink Pato, Fiji’’s Defence and National Security Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Milner Tozaka, Vanuatu’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Co-operation, Ralph Regenvanu and FLNKS Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Michael Forrest.
The Official Opening and Traditional Hand-Over of the Chairmanship of the MSG from Solomon Islands to Papua New Guinea will be held this afternoon at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Port Moresby before the Leaders go into their Retreat and Plenary tomorrow at the Stanley Hotel.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will take over the helm of the sub-regional political body based in Port Vila, Vanuatu for the next two years.
Also present at the 21st MSG Leaders’ Summit are observers from the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) and Representatives from the Indonesian Government.