6 Sep 2011

Consensus on Fiji suspension expected to hold at forum

8:51 pm on 6 September 2011

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key believes there is still consensus among Pacific Islands Forum countries that the suspension of Fiji should continue.

The 42nd Pacific Islands Forum is being held in Auckland from Tuesday until Friday. For the first time, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend, as will European Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso.

In keeping with the rugby theme for this year's forum, leaders were presented with All Black-style jackets and shirts for their official outfit.

New Zealand is hosting the Rugby World Cup which begins on Friday.

Fiji has been suspended from the forum since 2009 over its refusal to hold elections until 2014, but following a meeting in Nadi last week a number of countries have called for the suspension to be lifted.

Mr Key, who is chairing the forum, says while there have been calls for Fiji to be let back in the fold, there is a general acceptance that elections would have to be held first.

Mr Key says a number of leaders have said they are anxious to see whether Fiji's military leader Frank Bainimarama will actually carry out his commitment to hold elections in 2014.

He says Commodore Bainimarama has let the forum down in the past by his failure to attend meetings in Niue and Port Moresby in 2009.

Samoa's Prime Minister says Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi agrees that Fiji should not be re-admitted to forum until it makes moves to restore democracy.

He says rules can't be thrown overboard "just because of a colleague that is outside and does not wish to observe the rules" and the forum is doing a lot to engage with Fiji, but the ball is in Fiji's court.

NZ deal with Solomons

New Zealand and Solomon Islands have signed a joint agreement aimed at boosting economic development in the Solomons.

New Zealand will invest $25 million to improving transport links, including an airstrip and better roading in the western province.

The deal agreed at the Pacific Islands Forum also covers a plan to support the development of a sustainable fisheries industry.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says New Zealand remains committed to providing security through the Regional Assistance Mission based in Honiara.

However, Mr McCully says this agreement is more about creating a stable economic platform for Solomon Islands for the future.