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Indian PM meets Pacific leaders in Fiji
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (seventh from left) with Pacific leaders in Suva. Photo by DINFO NEWS

Indian PM meets Pacific leaders in Fiji

By ANA VURU

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on a one-day trip to Fiji, has ended discussions with Pacific leaders at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel.

However, since the media was not allowed to attend and there was no statement from the Fijian or Indian governments on the meeting, it is understood that a series of bilaterial discussions took place

Countries represented at the talks along with Fiji include Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Niue, Nauru, Vanuatu and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Foreign media are reporting that Mr Modi had asked for this meeting with Pacific leaders to discuss concerns over climate change and discuss assistance for affected countries.

India and China, whose President Xi Jinping arrives in Fiji this Saturday, are jockeying for support from one of the largest voting blocs in the United Nations.

Meanwhile, a University of the South Pacific academic believes a central issue of the talks will be climate change, where low-lying Pacific islands would welcome assistance.

“China and India, they are not just global political and economic powers, but they are contributors to the problem of climate change and the Pacific Island countries are at the receiving end of climate change but do not necessarily contribute to it,” said Dr Sandra Tarte, director of the USP’s politics and international affairs programme.

“In the past there has been this deadlock between developed countries and these so-called developing countries on how to approach the issue and whether or not countries like China and India need to make concessions.”

But, Dr Tarte did not see India expanding its presence in the South Pacific to the same extent as China.

“India doesn’t have the same reach as China does, diplomatic reach. It’s economic ties are not that expansive or as developed,” she said.

Earlier, Mr Modi paid a courtesy call on his Fijian counterpart after an impromptu meet and greet with members of the public after traditional ceremonies of welcome at Suva’s Albert Park.

After bilateral talks he addressed a special sitting of the Fijian Parliament.

After lunch, Mr Modi tours the Fiji National University’s Nasinu Campus before a banquet his held in his honour hosted by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Mr Modi leaves for Nausori International Airport at 8pm and then flies on to Nadi.

He leaves Fiji tomorrow morning.

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