Fijian Prime Minister and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Voreqe Bainimarama assured Forum Leaders are committed to a dialogue with the Government of Kiribati to explore options for closer diplomatic engagement between Kiribati and the Forum.
“On behalf of Forum Leaders, let me reaffirm that the people and Government of Kiribati will always be integral members of the Blue Pacific Continent. We share a rich history; we share a vast ocean, and we share a Pacific culture that has withstood and will continue to withstand the test of time.
“The Fijian Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau, travelled to Kiribati last week to hand over the Chair of the Forum Fisheries Committee and, just as importantly, as my Special Envoy to initiate re-engagement discussions in-person with the Government of Kiribati, including on its decision to withdraw from the Pacific Islands Forum,” said Bainimarama in a statement.
“I and my Government respect the position that has been taken by President Maamau and his Government. As Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, I remain committed to ensuring the solidarity and unity of the region. It is increasingly clear that we are stronger when we are united as one region in confronting a dynamic, challenging, and fluid strategic environment.
“Building on the very valuable discussions had between my Special Envoy and the Vice President of Kiribati, Dr Teuea Toatu, I and the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum remain committed to beginning the re-engagement process with Kiribati, as agreed in the Forum Leaders meeting in Suva last month.
“I thank the Government of Kiribati who, through their senior officials, have initiated a small step in what is a sensitive yet crucial journey of re-engagement that will ensure a stronger, more inclusive, and more responsive Pacific Islands Forum,” said Bainimarama.