16 Oct 2007

Two ongoing spats may have already wrecked theme of Pacific Forum Summit

10:09 am on 16 October 2007

Two ongoing spats in the Pacific may have already wrecked the theme of this year's Pacific Islands Forum summit that 'Together we can secure a peaceful Pacific.'

The summit begins this morning with a ceremony in the grounds of the Tonga's old palace in downtown Nuku'Alofa.

Don Wiseman reports from Tonga.

"Solomon Islands growing anger over the Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI, and its dissatisfaction with a Forum review of it, will present a huge challenge to the region's leaders. RAMSI is the Forum's most important operation and it needs to have it succeed. The absence of the Solomons' Government from much of the summit will make repairing the damage doubly difficult. Fiji's Commodore Bainimarama is here and the Forum can point to the ongoing success of its joint working group on the restoration of democracy. It is yet to be seen whether the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark will use the chance to initiate a dialogue with a man she had earlier said would be treated like a leper at the summit. Another key element in this is the likely continuing support that the other Melanesian countries will give both Fiji and Solomon Islands. The leaders cannot ignore the Pacific Plan. It is at a critical stage with leaders needing to see that after two years in operation it is beginning to bear fruit."