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Pacific nations more influential as united front: New Zealand PM


17:23, August 29, 2012

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Pacific island leaders are speaking with one voice at major international events and putting regional issues on the international agenda, last year 's Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) chair, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, said Tuesday.

Reviewing the last 12 months at the opening of this year's PIF meeting in the Cook Islands, Key said the Pacific island states had also made substantial achievements under the Waiheke Declaration on sustainable economic development issued in Auckland last year.

"Leaders recognized the importance of focusing our efforts on sectors where the Pacific has a comparative advantage, in particular tourism, fisheries and agriculture. It also recognized the importance of education, energy and infrastructure and creating an environment where sustainable economic development can take place," Key said.

Many nations had set goals and targets for phasing out diesel and fossil fuels to generate electricity, he said.

"Access to clean affordable and reliable energy is vital for Pacific island nations if they are to unlock their economic potential and reach their development goals."

Nations had also agreed well defined policies and regional control mechanisms over the Pacific tuna fisheries.

International events such as this year's Rio+20 forum in Brazil had proved how powerful Pacific nations were when they spoke with one voice, said Key.

"At Rio forum members worked together to promote outcomes which recognized the need for collective action to address the state of our oceans and fisheries. The importance of small island states and the larger ocean island states getting a greater share of the return from their fishery resources was also acknowledged," he said.

PIF leaders were looking forward to the United Nations General Assembly later this year when for the first time the forum leaders would meet with the UN Secretary General in the margins as part of an agreement to work more closely with the UN.

"The united Pacific front we have been able to present at these events amplifies our voice in putting specific issues squarely on the international agenda," said Key.

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