17 Apr 2013

PNG wants Fiji back in Forum

8:33 pm on 17 April 2013

Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister, Rimbink Pato, says PNG wants Fiji back in the Pacific Islands Forum fold because it is vital to the organisation.

Fiji was suspended from the Forum in 2009 after the country's regime, led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama, reneged on a 2007 promise to return the country to democracy.

Mr Pato has told the Fiji Sun that Fiji's critics, especially Australia and New Zealand, tried to influence others to withdraw their support from Fiji.

He says these actions against Fiji only made the country stronger because of the strong leadership of Commodore Bainimarama.

The Minister says Fiji now has what he describes as a credible roadmap to return to democratic rule and this was what these critics wanted.

Mr Pato, who last week visited Suva as part of the Forum's ministerial contact group, says he has told Australia and New Zealand that the Fiji isolation policy was not effective, but a blessing to Fiji.

The group will report to the Forum leaders in September.