The University of the South Pacific welcomed the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea on Monday this week.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's visit comes as the University looks forward to more talks with the Government of PNG to join its twelve (12) neighbors as a USP member country and the synergy from this development for far-reaching benefits and higher education in the region.
According to USP’s news website, 40 students from PNG are studying at USP - 32 at Laucala Campus and the remaining at USP campuses in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
PM O’Neill's talk during his courtesy visit to Laucala Campus focuses on regionalism.
He said regionalism is a very important topic because it changes the way one looks at managing issues that affect every man, woman and child in Fiji and the Pacific generally.
The PNG PM said regionalism is an important driving force for collective action as we develop our countries and especially as one voice – the Pacific voice and we Melanesians must use our collective strengths to embrace great opportunity and to deliberate on issues affecting us especially addressing the challenge of climate change and ensuring that our oceans are managed more sustainably.
“That is why regional cooperation is very much needed by all Pacific Island nations and more importantly, to mobilize resources and the development assistance required from international institutions like the Green Climate Fund.”
On a question raised during the interactive session on the West Papuan issue, PM O’Neill confirmed that PNG is having frank discussions with Indonesia on human rights violations in West Papua and they are encouraged by the progress that has been made, adding that the matter would eventually have to be taken up to the United Nations.
He compared the situation with that of Bougainville where because of its immense size and diversity, the crisis needs to be addressed in a sensible manner and one that does not compromise the stability of the country.
According to USP’s news Website more than 300 people attended the lecture, including Mr. Esala Teleni, Fiji’s High Commissioner to PNG; Ratu Tui Cavuilati, Fiji’s Roving Ambassador for the Pacific, Mr John Feakes, Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, Mr Jonathan Curr, New Zealand's High Commissioner to Fiji, Mr Sujiro Seam, Ambassador of France to Fiji; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Heads of Regional and International Organisations, Private Sector; NGOs, the media, and USP staff and students.
USP has invested in 12 member countries in the region and if we are to ever realize the full potential of Pacific regionalism, then now is the time, says Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).