PNG hoping Fiji will still go to Forum summit
Papua New Guinea is still hopeful that Fiji will attend this year's Forum leaders' summit in Port Moresby.
Papua New Guinea's foreign minister Rimbink Pato says his government is still hopeful Fiji's leader will attend this year's Pacific Islands Forum summit.
PNG is to host the meeting and prime minister Frank Bainimarama has been invited but Fiji Village reports him saying he will not attend.
Mr Bainimarama wants New Zealand and Australia to be removed as members but Mr Pato told Don Wiseman PNG backs New Zealand and Australia staying.
RIMBINK PATO: Just because Fiji will not be attending, that does not mean that we will defer the holding of the summit which is fixed. So we would hope that Fiji does change its mind and attends it because the PIF is a very important organisation for the members of the Pacific island states including, of course, Australia and New Zealand.
DON WISEMAN: Fiji of course wants Australia and New Zealand out of it. Where does PNG sit on that issue?
RP: Well PNG's position is, and has always been, that geographically speaking Australia and New Zealand are part of the Pacific island community and the Pacific Islands Forum is the premier organisation for the region and Australia and New Zealand have been very pivotal in the development and the progression of that institution and there is no reason why they should not continue to do so and so Papua New Guinea's position of course is that look, we may have our differences of opinion, there may be bumps here and there, but at the end of the day that's an organisation -- the Pacific Islands Forum -- within the framework which we can address those issues. So we're not going to change the structure that exists today, if there are issues we can fix them from within. If Fiji has a particular concern with the PIF and concern with Australia and/or New Zealand then those are matters that should be raised in the Forum where all of us can make a contribution if it's required to make such a contribution. And PNG is of course always ready and able as a bigger island state of the Pacific Islands to engage in those discussions and make the contribution that is required, either in Fiji's interests or the interests of the region, or in our own interests and more importantly in the interests of the Pacific Islands Forum structure which has worked very, very well for all our countries.
DW: As it stands though with this divisive approach being taken by Prime Minister Bainiamarama and physically pivotal role that Fiji has in the centre of the region and the location of the secretariat and whatever, this could be really destructive of the Pacific Islands Forum couldn't it?
RP: I'm not sure about that, I mean the Pacific Islands Forum is a community of discussion, negotiation and compromise. I'm not sure if we have formally given an invitation from our Prime Minister's chair for this year to the Prime Minister of Fiji, but look; this is still early days, we will speak to him and encourage him of course to attend the Forum, that's the architecture of the PIF and its institutions including the office establishment that's based in Fiji, structures that are owned by all of the member states of the Pacific together. So one country cannot take an approach that will destroy an institution that's worked for so many years.
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