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   Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

PS Mara Chairs Special MSG SOM

 msg som aug 2011 a

SPECIAL MSG SENIOR OFFICIALS MEETING (SOM) NO.2 FOR 2011, MSG SECRETARIAT CONFERENCE ROOM, PORT VILA, VANUATU, 11-12 August 2011

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Special Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) was officially opened on Thursday, 11 August 2011by the SOM Chairman & Permanent Secretary of the Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Solo Mara.  The purpose of the meeting was to allow senior officials from the four member countries and the FLNKS of New Caledonia discuss important issues concerning the region of Melanesia.

Mr Solo Mara, Chairman of the Special SOM welcomed participants from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the FLNKS and Fiji to the two-day meeting held at the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

In his welcoming remarks, Mr Mara said this special SOM was agreed to by Leaders during the 18th Leaders Summit that was held in Suva, Fiji almost five months ago and senior officials are now being tasked to discuss some key issues affecting the members.

He said the Special SOM will receive progressive reports from various sub-committees that were established through the three key divisions of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Secretariat such as the Political Affairs Division, Trade Investment Division and the Economic and Social Development Division.

Mr Mara added that in this Special SOM Senior Officials will discuss pertinent issues deriving from the Sub-committees on Legal & Institutional Issues, Security and the Police Commissioners' Conference. 

He said another key development to be discussed by Senior Officials at this meeting is the recent visit of the MSG Mission to New York to meet with the Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization (C24) in June 2011 in New York, United States of America.

The SOM Chairman also called on senior officials to address some of the key challenges facing member countries in terms of trade in Melanesia.  He said this meeting will discuss how MSG can improve clarity in the legal text of the MSG Trade Agreement to accommodate new areas such as trade in services and labor mobility agreed by Leaders at the recent 18th MSG Leaders Summit in March this year.

"In light of our trade priorities I understand that all our Members are continuing to negotiate a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and have been given the opportunity to discuss the analysis of the European Parliament Resolution that was kindly supported by funding by the Commonwealth Secretariat," said Mr Mara.

Mr Mara said the meeting is also going to receive an update on the signing of the Treaty on Traditional Knowledge & Expressions of Culture and also receive a report by Papua New Guinea on the outcome of internal consultations on the proposed Melanesian Games.

The outcomes and recommendations from this Special SOM will be presented to the Foreign Ministers Meeting.