News relating to the Pacific Forum taking place in Fiji

News relating to the Pacific Forum taking place in Fiji

Posted by : Frank Short Posted on : 12-Jul-2022
News relating to the Pacific Forum taking place in Fiji

12 July 2022

Solomon Islands Offers to Host Next Forum Leaders Meeting in 2023

Solomon Islands has made its intention known to the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMMM) that it wants to host the next Forum Leaders Meeting in 2023.

This was part of the Forum Foreign Ministers communiqué released Friday.

Vanuatu is next in line in the rotation to host the Forum Leaders Meeting but the communiqué noted Solomon Islands’ intention to host the next Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting (PIFLM), in consultation with the PIF Members of the Melanesian sub-region, subject to the outcomes of the 51st PIF Leaders Meeting regarding the Suva Agreement.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders meeting will be held this week on the sidelines of the Forum Leaders meeting.

A final decision on the next host country will be taken by the Forum leaders at the end of the week.

Solomon Islands is expected to hold its election next year, however Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during his Independence Day speech reiterated his government’s intention to defer the country’s general elections until after the Pacific Games in 2023.

The move has been met with widespread public criticism and the opposition has said implementing it would be denying Solomon Islanders their democratic rights.

The region has become front and centre of tensions this year after China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in April.

New Zealand, Australia and the U.S have denounced any increased Chinese military presence in the Pacific.

Beijing has maintained it was not establishing a military base in the Solomon’s’ capital Honiara, but that its goal is to strengthen security cooperation with the Pacific nations.


Empty seats mark first Pacific Islands Forum summit meeting

Seats are glaringly empty at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) summit in Suva this morning as Pacific leaders sit down to the first formal gathering.

Prime ministers from Australia and Papua New Guinea are expected to fly into Suva tonight, however the empty seats with Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Nauru name tags will not be filled.

This morning's meeting for leaders, observers and associate members was opened by Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who acknowledged the 'breakdown in communication' with the Micronesian bloc.

He called on the leaders to remember the necessity of re-establishing "our family bonds".

This morning's meeting was to bring all members, associate members and observers to the table with heads of the Council of Regional Organizations in the Pacific.

PIF secretary general Henry Puna gave the opening remarks this morning, and acknowledged this year's meeting was 'not an ordinary forum'.

There were some tough discussions to be had, he said, but he welcomed the chance for the

leaders to meet face to face.

"Let us not forget this is an opportunity for us to bond as colleagues."

US presence to be felt at the summit

The US vice president Kamala Harris is to make a virtual link to the forum summit meeting on Wednesday.

She was expected to underscore her country's renewed commitment to the Pacific region and discuss how that engagement could be deepened to deliver better results.

Meanwhile, US assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental affairs Monica Medina was at the summit to join in the discussions, with a focus on plastic pollution, illegal and unregulated fishing, climate change and the pandemic.

Medina was also scheduled to meet officials from the PIF Fisheries Agency to discuss the South Pacific Tuna Treaty, and support for the region to sustainably manage fisheries resources.

Source – Radio New Zealand.

More Pacific Islands Forum summit leaders pull out

The number of leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) summit has dropped further, with both the President of the Marshall Islands and the Cook Islands prime minister pulling out.

 It was revealed at the weekend that the Kiribati president Taneti Maamau was not attending the gathering, and his nation had formally withdrawn from the Forum.

Nauru's Lionel Aingimea was also understood to not be attending, ostensibly because of the soaring levels of Covid-19 in his country.

Now, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown has also pulled out, and said he wants to focus on the election, which is to be held in three weeks.

And Marshall Islands president David Kabua has said he would have attended the summit, but was not able to because of a legislatively-binding action to terminate the country's membership in the forum.

That legislation had resulted from the five Micronesian leaders threatening to pull out 18 months ago over the failure of their nominee to be given the secretary generalship.

A forum committee announced last month that a remedy had been found for this rift and that it would be voted on at this week's meeting

Kabua announced that the Marshall Islands are no longer members of the forum, and haven't been so since March of this year.

The five Micronesian states which raised concerns at the appointment of Cook Islands politician Henry Puna as secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum were the Marshalls, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Reactions to the withdrawal of Kiribati from the Pacific Islands Forum

Federated States of Micronesia president David Panuelo said he was surprised and saddened by Kiribati's surprise decision to withdraw from PIF.

He reiterated his country's commitment to their membership in the regional forum.

"It's a bit surprising, because we believe that the Suva agreement - when we came last month and met with the forum chair, was a big achievement ... I did say that the cloud has lifted from the Pacific because of that achievement. We did achieve the reforms that Micronesian sub region was asking [for]."

European Union ambassador to the Pacific Sujiro Seam said the withdrawal of Kiribati on the eve of the summit was sad news for the region.

He said the EU had first-hand experience of the difficulties associated with the exit of one of its members, and was urging forum leaders to address the situation.

The EU had always considered the Pacific Islands Forum as the premier political organization for the region, Seam said.

And the EU remained committed to strengthening its dialogue with the Pacific and supporting all efforts to maintain a united, balanced and inclusive Pacific Islands Forum.

Source – Radio New Zealand

 Pacific leaders pay tribute to ex-Japanese PM

Pacific leaders are expressing their condolences to Japan in the wake of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination.

Tonga's Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni issued a statement on Tuesday morning praising Mr. Abe as a rare leader who took personal interest in strengthening relations between the countries.

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama called Mr. Abe a true friend to Fiji and a model for every leader.

Papua New Guinea's caretaker Prime Minister James Marape credited him for initiating numerous development projects in PNG.

And New Zealand's PM Jacinda Ardern described Mr. Abe as a kind man who helped usher through many complex negotiations.

A private funeral for Mr. Abe will take place later today

Source – Radio New Zealand.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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