Two senior officials from the Vice President’s office and the Ministry of Justice, Information officer Jose Ise and Director Ismael Aguon, attended a meeting in Canberra, Australia last week, along with similar level officials representing all the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) countries to discuss the creation of the Pacific Fusion Centre.

It is envisioned that the Pacific Fusion Centre will serve to coordinate efforts of all PIF countries to strengthen information sharing and analysis to support regional security architecture, increase maritime domain awareness, and improve detection and response to maritime security threats and hazards including transnational crimes, cyber, human trafficking and environmental security.

The Pacific Fusion Centre will be established in a phase manner for the next 3-6 months of this year 2019. The initial phase, which aims to test products and strengthen coordination with existing institutions, will include an interim centre in Canberra, Australia. The Interim Centre, comprising of Australian and Pacific analyst, will develop pilot analytical produce and provide a targeted analyst training program, to build regional capacity ahead of the permanent centre’s establishment to be located in one of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) member countries.

Currently there are several Pacific countries vying for hosting the permanent Pacific Fusion Centre, which includes countries in the North Pacific such as Palau, FSM and RMI, as well some South Pacific countries.

The final decision on this issue will be decided in the PIF leaders meeting which is held annually and the island country of Tuvalu will host the next meeting in August of this year.

Palau has a very valid argument to be the permanent host of the Pacific Fusion Center, based on its strategic location at the western edge of Micronesia and its proximity to Asia, which serves as gateway of many maritime activities originating from Asian countries into the Pacific. (PR)