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Japan will host the third summit of Pacific island nations to enhance cooperation among its Pacific neighbors, the government said Friday.

The third Japan-Pacific Island Forum summit will be held May 16 and 17 in Okinawa Prefecture, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a regularly scheduled news conference.

He said the gathering will be chaired jointly by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. Fiji currently chairs the PIF.

The 16-member PIF groups Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Niue and the Cook Islands.

The first summit between Japan and the South Pacific Forum — the PIF’s predecessor — was held in 1997 in Tokyo. Miyazaki hosted the second gathering in 2000.

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