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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 02:47 GMT 03:47 UK
Summit tackles Pacific security
By Phil Mercer
BBC correspondent in Sydney

An Australian soldier (C) gives out sweets to children in Auki, the capital of Malaita
Australian troops went to the Solomons last year
Leaders of the South Pacific are meeting to discuss a new co-ordinated approach to counter terrorism.

The region includes some of the world's most remote and vulnerable nations. Australia has warned that failing states in the Pacific could become a haven for terrorists and organised criminal gangs.

Airport security and immigration controls are among the most pressing concerns for leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Auckland.

In March a Papua New Guinean businessman inadvertently took his licensed handgun on board a flight from Port Moresby to Singapore.

His weapon was not detected and was only handed over to the crew when the passenger realised his mistake.

Late last year Papua New Guinea's entire computer system for processing passports was stolen along with a number of blank documents.

There is a concern that militants and criminals could take advantage of lax security in the South Pacific.

Australia has taken a more direct role in regional affairs, due in part to the bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali two years ago.

Last year it led an armed intervention into the troubled Solomon Islands.

The Pacific Islands Forum was set up in 1971. It includes Fiji, Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Australia and New Zealand are keen for this 16-nation body to become a highly proactive organisation, with sound strategies for making the South Pacific safer.

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