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February Meet For leaders

February Meet For leaders
December 27
10:55 2014

Pacific island leaders will meet in Sydney, Australia in February to discuss regional architecture.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has given his support for the meeting when he met Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, in Suva in November.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, said the meeting would be in February and the date would be confirmed soon.

In this meeting, Ratu Inoke said, the leaders were expected to discuss the roles of the various regional organisations:

– the Pacific Islands Development Forum;

– the Pacific Islands Forum;

– the Melanesian Spearhead Group;

– the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

He says the aim is to ensure the architecture remains relevant to the needs of the region into the future.

Ratu Inoke said he woud be accompanying the Prime Minister to this meeting.

He said they had discused this meeting at Boron House in Suva with Ms Bishop.

Ms Bishop said Pacific nations had historically been prone to influence from countries outside the region. These countries use their aid budgets to win the confidence of Pacific nations, for example, a country’s support in United Nations votes; China and Taiwan being recent examples.

She said it was time for Pacific leaders to chart their own course and a Sydney summit early next year could set the regional architecture in place for that to happen.

It would likely streamline the handful of existing groups, such as the Pacific Islands Forum, which often overlap or compete with one another.

“I really think it’s time the Pacific leaders determine what they want for the 21st century and I’m hoping that Australia will be able to host that.

“We need more investment . . . from many countries in the Pacific, but we must make sure it’s in the interests of the particular Pacific islands, as opposed to some other geopolitical or strategic agenda of another country.”

On Fiji’s current stand on the Pacfic Islands Forum, Ratu Inoke said it remained the same.

Fiji, he said, wanted Australia and New Zealand out of the forum as full members and remain as donors.

If they remained members of the PIF, Ratu Inoke said, other donor countries should also be members.




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