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Regional leaders gather

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was last month when delegates from across the islands gathered on Guam to share common issues affecting the region. And today, they once again joined forces during the 54th meeting of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures here on Guam.

For the rest of the week, 12 Pacific island governments throughout the region will be on Guam discussing critical issues affecting the islands. And according to Speaker Judi Won Pat, these Pacific island leaders make up a powerful body set to use its voice to make a difference for our people. "This is a group that actually carries a lot of weight in the international world and on the national level and even throughout Micronesia when you get legislators all together basically saying this is what we want to do, this is what we want to see, what we happen to happen in our region," she said.

Won Pat is serving her second term as president of the APIL, which recently held its general assembly over the summer in Hawaii. Today was the kickoff for the meeting of its board of directors where issues such as economic development, governmental and cultural affairs, education, health, trade and commerce are at the forefront. "Then there are others to talk about human trafficking, report from the District Attorney again because we're saying human trafficking is in the Pacific unfortunately," he said.

The APIL heard presentations on the progress of several projects within the islands such as the Festival of Pacific Arts which Guam will host in 2016 and an update on the Pacific Islands Development Bank which was created by the APIL.

Won Pat meanwhile says topics from the APIL general assembly along with the inaugural Mariana Islands Legislature Association will carryover once again as the topics of free trade, universal health care and the Micronesia cruise liners are not only the most critical but the closest to reality.

"And they've all basically have said they too have thought of that and they too would like to see it go beyond just here in terms of passing resolutions but take it through fruition," she said.

Won Pat meanwhile says many of the topics are coincidentally being discussed with the Micronesia's chief executives in Saipan this week which she will be attending this Friday to present a report on the latest with universal health insurance. The APIL meeting continues to Friday with several other service and bonding projects set. 

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