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PNG welcomes Fiji back to Forum
Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama grees Chinese President Xi Jinping on his arrival in Nadi last week.

PNG welcomes Fiji back to Forum

Papua New Guinea has welcomed Fiji’s return to the Pacific Islands Forum.

Fiji was suspended from the Forum in 2009.

However, the suspension was lifted following successful return to democracy this year.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill welcomed Fiji back to the Forum family while addressing local media following his meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He said with the appointment of Dame Meg Taylor as the new Secretary General of the Islands Forum, PNG was anticipating the support of Fiji in retaining its role as a leading nation in the region.

Fiji has maintained its stand that unless there are changes to membership rules of the regional grouping it will not rejoin.

Fiji wants Australia and New Zealand out of the regional grouping or for other development partners like China, the United States of America and Korea to join as full members.

Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola says this decision has been relayed to Canberra and Wellington.

Meanwhile, Port Moresby is looking to strengthen its relationships with emerging world powers.

The Pacific’s fastest-growing economy says it will not abandon traditional partners Australia and New Zealand.

PNG Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato said Pacific Island Countries needed to connect with international players such as India and China for outcomes that were mutually beneficial — but in the process of developing relations, existing partnerships should remain unchanged.

“We need to look at new opportunities without losing sight of our traditional ways because when we have difficulties, Australia and New Zealand are always there for our Pacific Islands,” he said.

“We need to connect, we need to look at new opportunities without losing sight of our traditional ways. So if we partner properly, we can bring about outcomes which are mutually beneficial.”

PNG and seven other Pacific leaders met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Nadi last weekend.

Having met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier last week, Mr Pato said establishing relations with India and China was a thrilling prospect for the Pacific as a whole.

“India is offering a lot to the states of the Pacific Islands as they have expertise in IT and risk management,” he said.

“Risk management is a timely solution for times of disaster because the Pacific Islands are prone to many natural disasters and India has substantial experience in that. PNG has very strong relationship with India, some substantial companies in India are working in PNG, work running into billions of dollars.”



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