6 Mar 2006

Melanesian Spearhead Group to meet to discuss security concerns

4:52 pm on 6 March 2006

A special meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group in Vanuatu next week will focus on security in the region.

The Pacnews agency reports the meeting stems from the recent incident involving the 12 Fijian nationals planning to enter the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville after illegally entering Solomon Islands.

PNG's foreign minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, has stressed that the meeting will address security issues of major concern to the MSG Group, including the need to review visa agreements.

The Professor of Governance at the University of the South Pacific says there needs to be more effective ways of resolving issues between Melanesian Spearhead Group countries.

Graham Hassall was speaking after the United Nations made a request to investigate the ongoing presence of Fiji former soldiers on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville.

He says there needs to be quiet diplomacy where a quick response group can act in situations where a crisis arises.

Professor Hassall says this has become evident due to a lack of resolution over the former soldiers' presence.

"It is a tense issue and it's tense because the governments don't yet have an effective method of dialogue on this issue, and it's probably taking up a lot of heir time and resources to try to clarify the situation. And, what we know from previous episodes is that tense situations can escalate, small matters can become larger."

Professor Graham Hassall of the USP.