21 Apr 2010

Somare says MSG pushes for an expansion

4:57 pm on 21 April 2010

There's a push to extend the membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

The organisation is made up of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji, and with the opening of a secretariat in Port Vila it has become a more important sub-regional agency to the larger Pacific Islands Forum.

New Caledonia's Kanak pro-independence FLNKS movement has observer status.

The MSG region constitutes the bulk of the land area, population and economic power with the Pacific Island countries.

But the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, who is touring New Zealand, says he doubts it would split away from the Forum.

He says the MSG is a good little body whose leaders can discuss problems, many of which are common to all members.

"But now it is becoming a forum and there is already talk about inviting the Micronesian group, to be part of that forum. I think Bainimarama [Fiji interim leader] is talking about inviting [to the] Fiji meeting, they want to see some of these people, Kiribati and Tuvalu, to come back as observers."