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Commonwealth Secretary-General arrives in the US for key ministerial meetings

19 September 2011
Foreign ministers to prepare for CHOGM at their meeting in New York; finance ministers to meet in Washington DC

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has arrived in the United States where he will attend separate meetings of Commonwealth foreign and finance ministers, as well as hold bilateral discussions with several leaders.

Commonwealth foreign ministers will hold their annual meeting on 22 September 2011 in New York to discuss preparations for the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) due to be held in Perth, Australia in October 2011, as well as other Commonwealth issues - including small states and climate change.

The ministers will be briefed on the work of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which deals with serious and persistent violations of Commonwealth values and has been engaged in a review of its role since the last CHOGM in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009.

Foreign ministers will also be briefed on the report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), which leaders asked the Secretary-General to convene two years ago to explore options for strengthening the networks, sharpening the impact and raising the profile of the Commonwealth.

“The Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting is a milestone on the road to Commonwealth reform and renewal. Ministers will be briefed on two reports which can achieve Commonwealth transformation: a CMAG report by member governments exploring how the Commonwealth can be stronger and more positive in achieving tangible commitment to our political values, and an EPG report by a group of independent Commonwealth personalities offering options for lifting the Commonwealth's game, impact, and profile,” Mr Sharma said.

“The CHOGM in Perth is set to be a watershed for the Commonwealth,” he added.

Also on 22 September, CMAG will meet to consider its own report to Heads of Government, as well as discuss developments in Fiji, currently the only country on the group’s agenda.

Mr Sharma will hold meetings on bilateral issues with several Commonwealth leaders and foreign ministers during his stay in New York.

On Wednesday 21 September, the Secretary-General will be in Washington DC to attend the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting (CFMM). The meeting, which takes place during a period of particular global economic and financial uncertainty, will address contemporary challenges for the Commonwealth’s membership.

On Monday 19 September, Mr Sharma will join Commonwealth Chair-in-Office Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, at a high-level event in the margins of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Women political leaders will call for increased women’s political participation and decision-making across the world.

A UN high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), a subject of particular concern to Commonwealth leaders, will be held from 19 to 20 September 2011. On Tuesday 20 September, the Commonwealth Secretariat is co-hosting a side event on gender-responsive approaches to NCDs.

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