The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat is contemplating engaging China for cooperation on Security and sign on as its first official development partner.
This follows a successful meeting at the Secretariat yesterday between the Chinese Special Envoy to the Pacific, Qian Bo and the Director General, Leonard Louma, who described the meeting as satisfactory.
“I had a very constructive discussion on a broad range of issues that pertain to the specific interests of my MSG Membership, and the needs of the MSG Secretariat, and was happy with the positive sentiments conveyed by the Special Envoy on the proposed areas of cooperation,” he stated.
DG Louma confirmed that, “The Secretariat will now be crafting an Agreement that would be signed later this year between the Chinese Government and the Secretariat with the purpose of making the Chinese Government the first officially designated ‘Development Partner’ of the MSG Secretariat”.
Issues discussed included enhanced Trade and Economic Development cooperation with the possibility of mounting trade expositions in China and in MSG countries; renovation and rehabilitation of the MSG Secretariat Building; MSG countries easy visa access to China; designation of MSG countries as destination for Chinese tourists, Education/Scholarships; Health and Sports cooperation; and more cultural exchanges to foster better people-to-people understanding and relationship.
The Director General took the opportunity to thank the Chinese Government for assisting Vanuatu with the hosting of the inaugural MSG Prime Minister’s Cup last year.
In relation to security cooperation, the Director General reaffirmed the positions expressed by the respective MSG Leaders that MSG would engage with its development partners on the basis of the needs of its members.
He noted, “My members have affirmed in very strong terms that no one will choose their friends or enemies for them. They have made it clear that they do not see any reason why their countries cannot receive security assistance, be it in training or equipment, from different development partners.”
The MSG has the MSG Regional Security Strategy (RSS) and the RSS Working Group will be meeting in Fiji next month to finalise the text of the Strategy.
“Consistent with our Members approach, the Secretariat is not averse to cooperation with China in implementing certain aspects of the Strategy and will be carefully looking at the Strategy to determine areas where cooperation might be possible,” DG Louma said.
On the MSG Secretariat Building, DG Louma while thanking the Chinese Government for their generous assistance in building it advised that the renovation and rehabilitation project would be packaged as a joint project request from the MSG member countries.
The project scope will include additional floor space to accommodate MSG Members’ diplomatic representation to Vanuatu within the Secretariat – similar in nature to the concept of the Commonwealth Small Islands States Office in New York and Geneva.
SOURCE: MSG SECRETARIAT/PACNEWS