10 Aug 2004

Pacific Foreign Ministers holding talks with Forum partners in Samoa

10:51 am on 10 August 2004

Pacific Foreign Ministers today begin annual trade, aid and political talks with the Pacific Island Forum Dialogue Partners.

There are 13 Dialogue Partners, mostly parties providing development assistance in the region.

As Don Wiseman reports from Apia, the Forum Secretariat is endeavouring to make the talks more focussed after criticism that they achieved little..

"Earlier this year the Eminent Persons group in its review of the Forum said while in theory the talks are a valuable opportunity for the Pacific to talk to a major world audience, the potential of the dialogues has not been realised."

It said some countries attend the talks out of obligation, while Forum members see them as awkward set pieces.

The Eminent Persons said freer dialogues between interested,well informed parties need to be encouraged.

The Secretary General, Greg Urwin, says sorting out a satisfactory process is difficult - he says he understands the ASEAN meeting has similar problems.

But changes are being tried. Mr Urwin says this year they have assembled two top quality panels of Pacific Ministers so will be delivering a top quality product.