Pato briefs French leader

NOUMEA, 07 MAY 2018 (POST COURIER)- Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Rimbink Pato briefed French President Emmanuel Macron on Pacific issues when they met in New Caledonia on Saturday.

Minister Pato was the special envoy of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill at a meeting of Pacific leaders with the president in Noumea.

Macron led the discussion on a wide range of regional and global issues, including climate change and biodiversity.

Pato told Macron that the Pacific welcomed his statement in Sydney last week affirming the commitment of France to a rules-based international order.

The statement sent a clear message about the strong commitment by France to the security, stability and prosperity of the peoples of the Pacific, Pato said.

“I told the president that we will do our best to ensure an outcome affirming the same principle at the Apec leaders’ meeting in Port Moresby in November, and that we support agreements in harmony with the rules of the World Trade Organisation,” Pato said.

The discussion took place at a private dinner in Noumea organised by the Pacific Community. Australia and New Zealand were represented at ministerial level.

Pato raised the topic of a visa waiver for all Pacific Islands citizens to enter EU countries, and it was well received.

Minister Pato said the president’s statements were well received, particularly as France would be the main Pacific connection in the European Union after Brexit.

Pato and others received an assurance from Macron that he would support the unity of the Africa Caribbean Pacific (ACP) group of states when he met with francophone countries in Africa, rather than
back a reported African Union advocacy of a split from the ACP.

Pato welcomed the statement by Macron that he would support a flexible and accessible way for the ACP to apply for EU funding. “To see President Macron support the unity of the ACP shows the genuine commitment to the Pacific by France,” Pato said.

He also welcomed Macron’s positive reception to his recommendation that France direct its officials on the board of the Asia Development Bank to support a significant increase in funding for the Pacific in connection with climate change mitigation, adaption and resilience needs.

Macron said he intended to visit the Pacific every year.

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