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By PACNEWS Editor, Makereta Komai in Funafuti
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare supports the call by his Fijian counterpart that Australia respects the interests of the Pacific Island nations on climate change.
“I think what the Fiji PM raised was a real concern for us especially on climate change.Science has come out very powerful on it.This is a matter we will raise with Australia and Scott Morrison,” said PM Sogavare in a brief interview with journalists covering the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti.
Frank Bainimarama's opening statement at the Tuvalu sponsored Sautalaga dialogue Monday has gained traction with a number of regional government officials saying it's time that our leaders say it as it is.
A number of officials told PACNEWS that Bainimarama was ‘respectful yet determined’ in his call for Australia to be mindful of the real impacts of the coal industry in Australia on the climate in the Pacific and consider a rapid transition from coal to renewable forms of energy.
“This is an issue the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga has been raising overtime and it's good to hear from another Pacific leader raise it here at Leaders Summit,” said the senior Pacific official who did not wished to be quoted.
He added” This feels like a Forum where Australia will be taken to task for its position on climate change by Pacific Leaders.But let's wait and see until the Leaders Retreat”.
Apart from the high political level discussions that will start Wednesday, Leaders have been welcomed on arrival to a powerful symbolic “Save Tuvalu, Save the Pacific” demonstration by young children of the sinking future for Tuvalu and its people.
The Australian Minister for International Development, Alex Hawke who is already on island, has not gone on record to respond on the opening statement by the Fijian leader at the Sautalaga.
He is calling a press briefing with Australian only this afternoon. Pacific journalists covering the Leaders Forum have requested to be allowed into the media conference.
Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison will miss the formal opening this evening, and arrive in Funafuti Wednesday morning - including his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern.
Three new faces to this year's Forum Leaders Summit - the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea James Marape, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, David Panuelo and the President of New Caledonia, Thierry Santa arrived early today on the RAF VIP jet to join other Pacific Leaders that are already here in Funafuti.
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