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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

Minister Kubuabola at ROK Pacific FMs’ Meeting

MFA_-_ROK31 May 2011, Seoul, Korea: The first ever Meeting between the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea and his counterparts, Foreign Ministers from the 14 Pacific Island Countries got underway in Seoul today. The Meeting under the theme “Vision & Action: Cooperation across the Ocean” now provides a new forum for Foreign Ministers to engage in discussions on ways to expanding cooperation between Pacific Island Countries and the Republic of Korea.

In opening the Meeting, Korea’s Foreign Minister, H.E Mr. Kim Sung-Hwan said that despite the fact that relations between Korea and the Pacific is relatively young, Korea is determined and committed to elevate its bilateral and regional relations and cooperation with the Pacific. For the past three decades, Mr. Kim said that Korea’s assistance to the Pacific has been modest. For the past three decades, Korea has spent over $USD14.5 million worth of assistance to the Pacific. “Korea now commits itself to further contribute to the economic development of Pacific Island Countries by expanding Korea’s trade and investments in fisheries, marine resources, energy and tourism” Mr. Kim said.

More recently, Korea contributed $USD300 000 to the Korea- PIF Cooperation Fund for capacity building. The Korean Foreign Minister announced that Korea will increase the Fund to $USD1 Million USD annually to expand the scope of Korea’s cooperation on projects designed to promote human resources development in the Pacific.

Korea is a leader in global green growth technology. In 2010, it launched the Global Green Growth Instititute to render support and provide a useful way of exploring what real potential green growth has in the Pacific against the reality of their unique challenges and circumstance. Foreign Ministers agreed to make best use of the Korea-PIC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting as a platform to explore projects for green growth of the Islands in the Pacific and to develop more cooperative measures.

In delivering Fiji’s national Statement, Fiji’s Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said that the First Korea-Pacific Island Foreign Minister’s Meeting marks yet another milestone in the ever expanding collective bilateral relations between Korea and the Pacific. “We acknowledged your initiative, we are deeply appreciative of your intention” Ratu Inoke said.

On development cooperation, Minister Kubuabola told the Koreans that Fiji, a country observing the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action, prefers to deal with issues of development cooperation on a bilateral basis. “This will ensure that we are provided with leeway to set our own strategy  for economic development, strengthening our institutions, improving good governance and at the same time, allowing donors like Korea to align behind these objectives and use local systems” Ratu Inoke add.

On dissemination of bilateral assistance, Fiji supports the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to be the coordinating body. Fiji is of the view that regional mechanisms ought to serve only as a reporting avenue for the implementation and progress of bilateral aid. “Lesson learnt from current arrangement in the Pacific reveals creations and sustenance of unnecessary extra layer of bureaucratic canopies that needlessly consumes resources which would have otherwise trickled directly to support programmes of developments on the ground.” Minister Kubuabola said.

On Climate Change, Ratu Inoke informed the Koreans that Pacific Islands countries are still sailing on separate canoes, with varying sizes and speed, when it comes to capacity for addressing the adverse effect of Climate Change. “Fiji supports a collective regional approach to climate change adaptation and mitigation” Minister Kubuabola adds. In that regard, Ratu Inoke invited the Koreans to take a look at the Outcome of the latest Pacific Climate Change Roundtable Meeting as it contained best means to strengthening capacity and mobilizing climate change resources for the Pacific.

Before concluding, Foreign Ministers signed off on a Joint Statement and agreed to meet regularly on a three years basis and to utilize these meetings as a core consultative body in which they provide guidance on policy direction for the cooperation between Korea and the Pacific. Inter-sessional Senior Officials Meetings would be held to discuss ways to implement decisions by the Ministers’ Meeting.

Accompanying Fiji’s Foreign Minister to the First Korea- Pacific Island Foreign Minister’s Meeting are Fiji’s Ambassador to Japan & Korea, H.E. Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga and the Director of Political & Treaties, Mr. Sainivalati S. Navoti.