Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister, Rimbink Pato has raised concern over an article which appeared on the front page of a Fijian Newspaper.
The Fiji Sun ran a negative article about PNG’s Meg Taylor being chosen as the Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
The paper described Taylor’s selection as cheque book diplomacy. This comes after Fiji’s nominee Kaliopate Tavola was unsuccessful.
In caps locks it read “ Back Stabbed” PNG betrays Fiji, MSG and derails agreement to back Tavola for top regional job.
The article alleged PNG was able to secure the crucial votes by offering a 500 million kina inducement to help cash-strapped small island states.
The article also cited in December last year, MSG foreign ministers met in Port Vila, Vanuatu, where they agreed to put up Mr Tavola as MSG candidate for PIF Secretary-General.
The paper went onto paint a picture that PNG was buoyed by its new-found kina power, forged ahead with its cheque book diplomacy. Its goal is to establish itself as a leader and power broker.
Raising concern PNG’s foreign affairs minister, Rimbink Pato, said the allegations were inaccurate and that such claims could undermine relations between friends.
He said Dame Meg Taylor’s nomination was presented with the knowledge of all forum nations, including Melanesian Spearhead Group members, and relevant discussions were held between Leaders and Ministers.
He said Fiji’s application was not successful due to technical irregularities in the application, compounded by the fact that Fiji is currently suspended from the Forum.
He also pointed out that after the Micronesian candidate withdrew, the two contenders for the position were from the Melanesian countries of the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
For transparencies sake, he said Prime Minister, Peter O&rsquO’Neill, and Solomon Islands PM, Darcy Lilo, did not participate in the deliberation and decision that resulted in the selection of Dame Meg Taylor.
Mr Pato says the relationship between Papua New Guinea and Fiji is strong and deep, with Prime Minister, Peter O&rsquO’Neill, going to significant lengths to maintain engagement with Fiji during recent regional discord.
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