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Opening Statement by Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs Shri E. AHAMED, at the plenary of the Post-Forum Dialogue Partner’s meeting at Rarotonga (Cook Islands)

September 03, 2012

Honourable Chairman and Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Mr Henry Puna
Honourable Secretary General
Excellencies, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.


It is an honour to be here, amongst you today, on the occasion of the Post-Forum Dialogue Partners Meeting. I would like to compliment the Government of Cook Islands for the excellent arrangements, warm and gracious hospitality.

India has long established historical links with the Pacific region and identifies culturally and socially with communities in the region. We have also been associated with this august Forum since its inception and it is a matter of honour for me personally that I am representing my country 4th time in this Forum.

Excellencies,

We are committed to take our relations forward with each of the countries represented in this Forum collectively and individually. We are also committed to assist eligible Pacific Island countries in their movement towards greater economic and social development as well as in their struggle to counter external issues of climate change that affects them deeply.

India’s "Regional Assistance Initiative” for Pacific Island Forum countries, is based on the priorities identified by their leaders in the Pacific Plan. In keeping with its desire to develop closer engagement with the Pacific region, India increased its annual Grant-in-Aid to One hundred and twenty five thousand US Dollars from 2009 to each of the Pacific Island Countries for their economic development.

The assistance offered by India covers a wide spectrum of economic and social needs as determined by the Pacific countries themselves. This includes supply of equipment and materials for social and economic programmes; sustainable development initiatives; capacity building measures on Small and Medium Enterprise promotion, training courses for diplomats by Foreign Service Institute of India and scholarships in higher studies in different centres of academic excellence in India. This year we have provided assistance for office equipment for the ACP-EU conference, supply of a special vehicle for the disabled a mobile library etc. We have also successfully completed a project worth around One hundred and ninety five thousand US Dollars for upgradation of access road from Jetty to a village and for upgradation of another Jetty.

There are several projects under consideration like supply of medical and dental equipment for Princess Margaret Hospital, renovation of clinics, installation of a Tsunami alert system, community development projects and Parliamentary Support Project etc.

We are committed to continue our development assistance. I would also like to mention that those countries which did not utilize the grant-in-aid of One hundred and twenty five thousand US dollars offered annually in previous years may avail of the same, along with the offer made this year. We also remain committed for greater integration of Pacific island economies with the Indian economy.

Excellencies,

India also offers wide ranging technical expertise in non-conventional energy sources, especially wind and solar energy, information technology and telecommunications.

We are also happy to share our experience in training programmes, disaster management, climate change, adaptation and mitigation and in other areas that are of your interest.

We keenly follow and appreciate the steady progress made by Pacific Island Countries Forum towards regional integration. This Forum provides an excellent opportunity to identify common areas of cooperation in different sectors for sustainable development. India has always stood for the cause of the developing countries at multinational forums such as the UN and the WTO and has been at the forefront of South-South cooperation. Further, we would like to have closer and more intensive India-PIF dialogue at Ministerial level.

Thank you.

Cook Islands
August 31, 2012

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