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Small Island States Leaders Gather In Palau For Inaugural Meeting

Leaders and their representatives from the Smaller Island States (SIS) have gathered in Palau on Thursday for a two-day meeting to set key issues and address the particular needs of the group.

Palau Minister of State Billy Kuartei said that this is the first meeting of the group outside of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting and the gathering here was the agreement made in Papua New Guinea last year.

Smaller Island States Leaders and their representatives at the National Capitol Building Grounds at Ngerulmud in Melekeok, Palau. Supplied Photo

"As small islands states they are the most vulnerable so as a group they want to consolidate their top priorities to present to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and the world,” Kuartei stated.

The SIS group is composed of Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu. These nations are also member of the PIF.

PIF Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor opened the meeting saying that in the two-day gathering, the leaders will consolidate their aspirations in a more strategic context.

“Over the course of the coming days, our focus as partners, officials and leaders will be on enhancing opportunities, building consensus and strengthening partnership, to address the needs and interests of the Smaller Islands States of the Pacific Islands Forum.”

Taylor said that the smaller islands states with their smallest economies, limited land-based natural resources and isolation “will struggle more than most Pacific countries to achieve a satisfactory pace and quality development.”

The key priorities of the group will be on climate change financing, adaptation and mitigation; labor mobility, fighting non-communicable disease, fisheries surveillance and revenues and transportation service agreements.

RMI President Hilda Heine and Kiribati President Taneti Mamau represented their countries to the meeting here while the other leaders from the rest of the group sent their representatives.

Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President Peter Christian was in attendance as an observer. FSM will host this years PIF leaders’ meeting.

The leaders will release an outcome at the end of the meeting, June 24.

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