Date: 10-22-2003

HONOLULU (Oct. 22) -- Leaders from 13 Pacific Island nations and Hawaii are gathering at the East-West Center this week to discuss security, and President George Bush has been invited to meet with them tomorrow.

"Enhancing Unity and Dignity: Fighting for a Common Security" will be the theme of the 7th Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders. Bush has stressed security in meetings with Asian leaders during his trip through the region.

Delegates at the two-day conference, hosted by the East-West Center's Pacific Islands Development Program and starting tomorrow, will also elect a new leader who will serve for three years.

The leaders had planned to gather early next year. However, they rescheduled for this week to take advantage of Bush's stop in Hawaii, said Sitiveni Halapua, director of the Center's Pacific Islands Development Program.

Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander in chief of the Pacific Command, will address the leaders on security as well as East-West Center President Charles E. Morrison.

"Leaders will identify and exchange their views on the main issues of concern for our common security in the region," said Halapua, who will also speak before the group.

Attending will be leaders from American Samoa, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Samoa, Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is also expected to attend.

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Susan Kreifels at 808-944-7176 or



This is an East-West Wire, copyright East-West Center