8 Aug 2013

PNG stresses commitment to Fiji

9:54 am on 8 August 2013

The Papua New Guinea government has stressed the importance of a new Fiji-instigated regional body amid suggestions it has aligned with Australia and New Zealand over Fiji.

The Pacific Islands Development Forum has just wound up in Fiji whose regime set up the grouping in response to Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum.

PNG's Minister of National Planning, Charles Abel, says an editorial in the Fiji Sun has cast aspersions on PNG's commitment to the new body, the Pacific Islands Development Forum, by not sending its Prime Minister to the talks.

Mr Abel says Peter O'Neill could not attend because of a long-standing commitment with the New Zealand government and he says as National Planning Minister he was the key person to get the forum's agenda through.

"There were some further aspersions cast in relation to some of the other activities, bilateral activities together with New Zealand and Australia. I also reject those notions that there is somehow a division there and somehow Papua New Guinea is beginning to align itself in a particular way in the region and that is not the case."

Charles Abel says PNG was under no pressure from Australia or New Zealand not to attend the Forum.