3 Apr 2015

Tonga opposed to Forum exclusions

1:36 pm on 3 April 2015

The new government in Tonga says it is opposed to moves initiated by Fiji to push New Zealand and Australia out of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Akilisi Pohiva

Akilisi Pohiva Photo: AAP (file)

The issue was raised during this week's visit to Tonga by Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, when she met the new prime minister, Akilisi Pohiva.

He says as many Tongans live in Australia and New Zealand, it would be unwise to turn around and consider Fiji's position to form a new regional organisation.

Fiji set up the Pacific Islands Development Forum after being suspended from the Forum in 2009 because the Fiji regime reneged on its promise made to Forum leaders that it would restore democracy by 2009.

After the suspension was lifted, Fiji said it would not rejoin the Forum unless Australia and New Zealand changed their status as members to that of a development partner.

Mr Pohiva says Tonga will continue to remain an independent sovereign state and continue to support New Zealand and Australia as members of the Forum.