The Pacific Island Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting opened yesterday in Sydney, Australia, where Samoa is being represented by Deputy Prime Minister Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo Meredith.

The meeting will focus on discussions relating to disaster management in light of the importance of strengthening regional responses to natural hazards. Other issues on the agenda include talks on enhancing good relations between leaders of the Pacific countries and those of developed countries and also partner organisations.
Findings from this meeting will be recommended in the Pacific Forum Leaders Meeting in Papua New Guinea scheduled for September.

Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop welcomed delegates from 15 Pacific Island nations with a promise to focus on practical ways to achieve stronger coordination and improve preparations for and manage natural disasters in the region.

“Australia has deep ties with the Pacific region and we support our neighbouring nations through our focus on economic development assistance, the Seasonal Worker Programme, and our emergency response to natural disasters. Reducing risks and mitigating the effects of disasters is critically important for this region.”

Fonotoe is then scheduled to represent Samoa at the Special Pacific ACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers meeting in Fiji from 15 – 17 July where discussions will focus on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

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