PRESS RELEASE - 27th January 2011 - The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is this week hosting seven Smaller Island State and Pacific Plan Desk Officers for a workshop to discuss the Pacific Plan and their role in supporting Member States engage on issues around regional cooperation and integration.

The Desk Officers participating in the workshop are from Nauru, Palau, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, as well as Vanuatu.

Opening the workshop, the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, welcomed the Desk Officers and emphasised the important role they can play in deepening regionalism in the Pacific.

"Many of these Desk Officers are newly appointed, and by attending this workshop they will gain a better understanding of the Forum Secretariat and our work to support the Pacific Plan. Importantly, they can share their experiences and return home better able to serve the region and their Member governments," Mr Slade said.

The Desk Officers will also visit a number of Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP) agencies during their stay in Suva, including the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP), to gain a better understanding of their role in implementing the Pacific Plan.

The Smaller Island State-Pacific Plan Desk Officer scheme is an initiative under the Pacific Plan. Supported by Member Governments and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Desk Officers monitor and support implementation of the priorities endorsed by Leaders under the Pacific Plan. The Desk Officers are located within key Government Ministries, including Foreign Affairs or Office of the President. While the Desk Officers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience, they are all committed to supporting greater regional integration across the Pacific.