by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online
Fiji’s return to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) late last month comes after their successful democratic election in September.
Fiji had been suspended since 2009 following their military coup; they were also re-admitted to the Commonwealth in recognition of their democratic elections. Palau President Tommy Remengesau said in a statement that the forum group leaders had agreed on Fiji’s reinstatement for the same reason.
“I requested the Forum secretariat to deliver my letter addressed to the prime minister of Fiji conveying the decision of the Forum leaders to fully lift the suspension of Fiji from the Forum forthwith… Based on a recommendation to leaders by the Forum Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) on Fiji,” Mr Remengesau said in a statement.
Papua New Guinea affirmed their support of this decision last week, with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill divulging PNG’s anticipation to members of the Fijian press after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Fiji.
“We are a brother of Fiji and we have always been a strong supporter during the era when Fiji was out of the Pacific Islands Forum,” O’Neill told The Fiji Times.
“We are looking forward for them to come. We are thankful of their support on the appointment of Dame Meg Taylor, a very strong Papua New Guinean and Pacific woman who will lead the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat for the first time.”
Mr O’Neill further voiced Papua New Guinea’s important engagements with China, such as national broadband, water and sewage projects funded by the Exim Bank of China.
“I think it’s important that we stay engaged because China is a very important global player not only in terms of trade and investment but also in security and other related issues like climate change.”