9 Aug 2004

Task force begins consultation on Pacific Plan within weeks

1:03 pm on 9 August 2004

A Task Force being set up by the Pacific Islands Forum will begin consultations on the Pacific Plan across the region within weeks.

The Plan's aim is to foster greater inter- dependence in the region and to initiate this the Task Force will consult then recommend where the gains can be made.

The just completed Forum summit in Apia approved terms of reference for the Task Force, and its members - senior officials from within the region - should be decided within weeks.

The new Chair of the Forum, Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, says its a very ambitious project but it should be completed in 12 months.

He says the consultations will be as broad as possible

to ensure that the leaders can rightly say the programme is owned by all the Pacific nations:

"I say that because I am quite sure that despite the fact that there are sixteen countries, you are going to come back and say this again has been forced on you by Australia and New Zealand."