Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, on 31 August 2012 to promote cooperation in the Pacific. Australia and New Zealand welcomed the commitment of the United States to the Pacific demonstrated by Secretary Clinton’s attendance at the Post Forum Dialogue.
The participants discussed their countries’ long-standing partnerships with the governments and peoples of Pacific Island countries to promote economic growth, sustainable development, good governance and security. They affirmed their common interest in advancing regional development in the Pacific, including by promoting effective and efficient coordination of development assistance through the mechanisms provided for under the Cairns Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination in the Pacific.
The participants affirmed their intent to work jointly to encourage Fiji’s early return to democracy, including through restoration of the rule of law, strengthening civil society, and rebuilding democratic institutions.
The participants expressed concern about the consequences of climate change, which represents an urgent environmental, economic, development and security issue. They stressed the importance of dependable access to clean and affordable energy to support sustainable economic development and welcomed the announcement that New Zealand would host a Pacific Energy Conference in 2013.
They underscored the need to protect the region’s diverse fisheries in order to deliver equitable outcomes for Pacific Island countries and ensure sustainable management of Pacific fisheries. They reiterated their support for successful negotiations to extend the South Pacific Tuna Treaty on terms that ensure long-term economic benefits to the Pacific region and contribute to the long-term sustainability of the region's fish stocks.
The participants noted the importance of maritime surveillance cooperation and coordination, with a view to enhancing the capacity of Pacific Island countries. The United States discussed with Australia and New Zealand the effort to expand shiprider opportunities with Pacific Island countries, to help bolster maritime security in the region. Australia and New Zealand also welcomed the announcement by the United States of new efforts to fund training, assessment and clean-up of unexploded ordnance, a legacy of World War II, in several Pacific Island countries.
The participants stressed the importance of promoting gender equality and empowering women in the Pacific. They welcomed and endorsed the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration issued by the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, as well as the Joint Statement on the Rarotonga Dialogue on Gender Equality issued by dialogue participants.
The participants welcomed the gender initiatives made at the Forum; the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development and the Rarotonga Partnership for the Advancement of Pacific Islands Women.
Secretary Clinton, Minister McCully and Parliamentary Secretary Marles concurred that the opportunity for discussion on matters of common interest had been valuable and noted their intention that the three countries continue such discussions in the future