Pacific Islands Forum stands by Fiji suspension
Updated 1 hour 5 minutes ago
Leaders from the Pacific region have wrapped up the Pacific Islands Forum with a decision to maintain Fiji’s suspension from the group and a call for more reliable aid.
It follows three days of talks on the remote One Foot Island in Aitutaki, Cook Islands.
They collectively agreed Fiji would not be allowed back into the Forum.
However, they said the country’s interim government had made progress towards democracy and will be permitted to participate in a parallel gathering of Pacific countries.
The leaders also used their summit to ask aid donors to make their assistance more reliable and more predictable, and they called for more help in fighting illegal fishing.
Cook Islands’ Prime Minister Henry Puna said he will may discuss the issue of illegal fishing with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she arrives for the post-forum dialogue tomorrow.
Her visit has been plagued by logistical headaches, and her staff struggled to find enough cars and hotel rooms during one of the biggest events in the archipelago’s history.
Mrs Clinton will be joined by Admiral Sam Locklear, the head of US Pacific Command, in an appearance seen as a bid to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.
Earlier this year, Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi described China as a better friend to the region and said that the United States had neglected the South Pacific in recent times.
Marshall Islands will host the next Pacific Islands Forum in 2013.