THE 20th Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders’ Summit opens today with an elaborate welcome and gift-giving ceremony in Honiara.
Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, FLNKS head of delegation Victor Tutugoro, and Indonesia’s vice Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdurrahman arrived on Tuesday.
Papua New Guinea’s Peter O’Neill will arrive this morning ahead of the opening ceremony.
Vanuatu’s political crisis has prevented its newly elected prime minister Sato Kilman from attending.
He had instead dispatched the director general of his office Johnson Naviti to attend on his behalf.
An impending legal action over a dispute surrounding a motion of no confidence means Mr Sato was unable to attend.
That case will be head this afternoon.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will deliver a speech during the opening ceremony.
Tomorrow, MSG Leaders will proceed to their customary island retreat, before they re-gather in on Friday for the plenary and release of their decisions in the form of the summit communiqué.
High on the MSG leaders’ agenda is the application of United Liberation Movement of West Papua’s application to be a full MSG member.
Others include setting up of a MSG business arm – Melanesia Solution, which is at its initial stage covering franchise shipping and airline services including other business avenues and strengthening of trade links.
This includes the progress relating to the MSG economy, the economic integration including financial issues, namely Melanesian Emergency and Stabilization Fund and the Development and Investment Fund.
The official opening ceremony will take place at the grounds of National Museum.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI