Fiji hosts regional meeting to engage with Pacific island neighbors

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-8-23 14:30:27

Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama opened the two-day Engaging with the Pacific meeting in the western tourist town of Nadi on Thursday.

Top leaders and senior officials from 14 Pacific island nations of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Ginuea (PNG), Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Fiji are attending the meeting.

Kazakstan and Kosovo also sent their representatives to participate in the gathering.

The meeting, with the theme of "Strengthening Partnerships amongst Pacific Small Island Developing States," is being held ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting to be held in the Cook Islands next week.

Although Fiji will not be part of that forum as it remains suspended from it, the focus of the meeting is widely expected to be on Fiji today and tomorrow.

Opening the Nadi meeting on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Bainimarama called for unity amongst the Pacific island countries to assist small island developing states, while believing that the Pacific Islands Forum has wrongly used its influence to bar Fiji from top level participation in the forum.

This policy is no longer sustainable as Fiji needs to be part of the negotiations on the economic partnership agreement with the European Union and the implementation of the Pacific Island Countries'Trade Agreement, says Bainimarama.

He said some of the neighboring countries are now beginning to realize what others have known for a long time - that Fiji's stated objectives are not just words, they are commitments that the government has been steadily meeting since their first day in office.

This is a great moment in Fiji's history as it builds a fully inclusive and democratic society, and it is time for Fiji to be accorded full participation in the Pacific branch of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group, he stressed.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

blog comments powered by Disqus