1 Mar 2006

Cook Islands to attend China-Pacific Islands Economic Development meeting

4:18 pm on 1 March 2006

The Cook Islands has confirmed it will be attending the China-Pacific Islands Economic Development meeting in Fiji next month.

It's the first such regional conference to be held between China and Pacific Island countries, with the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, also attending, in what will be his first ever visit to the region.

Solomon Islands has turned down the invitation, quoting its diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

But, the secretary of the Cook Islands Foreign Affairs Ministry, Edwin Pittman, says they'll be attending as they support the One China policy.

"This particular forum is going to realise a programme of regional co-operation from the People's Republic of China to the Pacific Islands countries, and it's also going to look at establishing partnerships between the private sectors of China and private sectors throughout the Pacific."

Mr Pittman says a Chinese engineering team is currently on Rarotonga to assist in planning a new aid project to upgrade the back road on the island.