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Small Island States form new forum

August 29, 2012 7:47 pm

Leaders of Pacific Small Island States have decided to form their own body independent of the Pacific Islands Forum.

While relations between Fiji and its neighbors were strained due to Fiji’s suspension from the Forum, steps taken by Fiji have been recognized by regional leaders as the way forward.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says Fiji’s exclusion from the Pacific Islands Forum has been felt by Small Island States, pushing them to form their own forum, with Fiji as a leading member.

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“In the last meeting, they’ve decided that we should have a Pacific Island Development Forum. That is very important for us because what they’re saying is, we need to come away from Australia and New Zealand and form a forum ourselves as Pacific Island countries because it is very important for a way forward for the whole Pacific Island region.”

He says this new forum has international recognition, something the PIF doesn’t have.

“We are now recognized by the United Nations as Pacific Small Island Development States. And not only that, the Asian bloc that used to be called Asia in the UN voting bloc, is now called Asia and the Pacific Small Island Development States. That is a recognition by the UN, the PIF is not recognized by the UN.”

Bainimarama maintains that Australia and New Zealand remains an important partner to Pacific Island countries.

The Pacific Islands Development Forum replaces the Engaging with the Pacific Meeting, with Fiji to host the inaugural meeting next year.

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