13 Jun 2005

Pacific security to be discussed in Auckland this week

6:38 am on 13 June 2005

Senior law enforcement and policy officials from around the Pacific are meeting in Auckland this week to talk about security in the region.

The New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Phil Goff, says the Pacific Island Forum's Regional Security Committee will discuss ways to deepen regional cooperation on law enforcement, customs, immigration and transport security.

Mr Goff says that terrorism is a global reality and while it is not considered a priority in the region, Forum leaders need to comply with international counter-terrorism standards.

But Terence O'Brien, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Wellington, believes the government is towing a populist line.

"That's the New Zealand line, and it's a line which certainly will gain us approval in the larger capitals of the world that we're doing our bit in the Pacific. But my personal opinion is that international terrorism of the Al-Qaeda kind is not a concern in the Pacific at all."

Mr O'Brien says the main focus should be on transnational crime, money-laundering, drug trafficking and police cooperation on those issues.