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By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Funafuti
Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga has welcomed the return of Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama to the Pacific Island Forum meeting in Tuvalu this week.
Fiji will be represented by the Prime Minister for the first time since it was re-admitted in 2015 after six years of suspension from the regional grouping of Pacific nations.
“I think his attendance underscores one thing - the strong connection between island leaders themselves, particularly with the small island nations of Tuvalu and Kiribati.
“We have communities of Tuvaluans in Suva, in Kioa Island and also Kiribati in Rabi and Suva as well. The Fijian Prime Minister has committed to offer to Tuvalu and Kiribati space for our citizens if they decide to move and even written letters to that effect.
“I’ve seen his commitment to the future of the Blue Pacific continent. This leadership needs to be harnessed properly so we can use it to address the vulnerabilities and unique situations for the people of the Pacific.
PM Sopoaga said Fiji remains a significant member of the Pacific Islands Forum even though it was suspended from the group almost ten years ago.
Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor said the Pacific Islands Forum is pleased to have Fiji back on board.
“Fiji has always been there at regional and international engagements. The Secretariat is pleased and we will do everything to make sure that relationship is strengthened, said Dame Meg.
A month after Fiji conducted its democratic elections in September 2014, the Pacific Islands Forum lifted its suspension on Fiji,
Since then, Fiji’s representation at the annual Forum Leaders meeting has been at ministerial level.
PM Bainimarama is leading Fiji’s delegation that includes foreign affairs minister, Inia Seruiratu, acting foreign affairs secretary Yogesh Karan and senior government officials.
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