5 Apr 2006

Fiji hoping for major benefits from China-Pacific economic meeting

9:27 am on 5 April 2006

Fiji's foreign minister is forecasting major benefits from the first ever China - Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum which begins in Nadi today.

Kaliopate Tavola has told Radio Fiji he hopes a blueprint will be drawn up at the forum for more assistance from China.

Mr Tavola says this is likely to include cooperation between China and the South Pacific in the areas of environmental protection, health, tourism, education, agriculture and fisheries.

Mr Tavola says the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, who is on his first visit to the South Pacific, will present the keynote address at the forum this morning.

The Fiji prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the chairman of the South Pacific Forum, PNG's Sir Michael Somare, will also be speaking.

The two-day forum will be attended by South Pacific countries which recognize China which in addition to Fiji and PNG, include the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia.