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Secretary-General Sharma begins tour of the Pacific

24 August 2015

Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma will visit Tuvalu, Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea from 25 August to 10 September. This will be the Secretary-General’s first visit to Tuvalu. With this visit, he would have had full formal visits to all Commonwealth member states during his tenure as Secretary-General.

This trip is an opportunity to brief leaders from the region on preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which takes place in Malta from 27 to 29 November, and receive their advice.  The visit is also an opportunity to brief leaders on the breadth of Commonwealth activity currently in hand for small and vulnerable states to address their priorities practically, including climate change, debt, natural disaster management, ocean governance, and trade as well as strengthening capacity and national democratic institutions.

In Tuvalu, from 25-27 August, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with the Governor-General, HE Sir Iakoba Taeia Italei, the Prime Minister, Hon Enele Sopoaga, and the Foreign Minister, Hon Taukelina T Finikaso, amongst others. The visit will provide an opportunity for the Secretary-General to reinforce the Commonwealth's commitment to Tuvalu and identify specific areas of partnership. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss particularly the challenges associated with climate change in Tuvalu, including those relating to reconstruction following Cyclone Pam earlier this year.

Secretary-General Sharma will be in Fiji for bilateral meetings on 28 and 31 August, where he is expected to call on President HE Epeli Nailatikau; the Prime Minister, Hon Frank Bainimarama; the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Dr Jiko Luveni; the Foreign Minister, Hon Ratu Inoke Kubuabola; the Attorney-General, Hon Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum; and the Education Minister, Hon Dr Mahendra Reddy; and, the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Ro Teimumu Kepa, among others. During his stay in Fiji, the Secretary-General will address the Third Summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum on 2 September on ‘Leadership for Climate Resilient Green Blue Pacific Economies’. He will also meet with resident High Commissioners and diplomatic representatives in Fiji of other Commonwealth member states.

In Samoa from 4-5 September, the Secretary-General will attend the opening of the Fifth Commonwealth Youth Games, where up to 1,000 young athletes aged 14-18 are expected to participate from across the Commonwealth. While in Samoa, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet the Prime Minister, Hon Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Saliele Malielegaoi; the Minister for Women, Community and Social Development, Hon Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua; and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Palusalue Fa'apo II. This visit will also provide an opportunity for the Secretary-General to emphasise youth empowerment and advancing peace and social goals through sport.

Mr Sharma will be in Papua New Guinea from 7-10 September, where he will meet with the Prime Minister, Hon Peter O'Neill; the Foreign Minister, Hon Rimbink Pato OBE; and the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Don Polye. The Secretary-General will attend the 46th Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting in Papua New Guinea, where he is expected to hold bilateral meetings with several leaders from the Pacific region at the margins of the summit.