By Pita Ligaiula in Denarau Nadi
Fiji’s Prime Minister and outgoing Pacific Islands Forum Chair Sitiveni Rabuka says the Pacific solidarity has been restored after Kiribati President Taneti Maamau Friday signed the Suva Agreement.
Rabuka said it has been an honour for him, personally, to have hosted his fellow Pacific Leaders in Nadi this week.
“It was an opportunity to connect and rekindle many regional relationships. It was also an opportunity for Fiji to showcase again the warmth and hospitality that our Fijian people are renowned for, the world over.
“Our gathering as Forum Leaders here in Denarau was framed under the theme Reflection, Renewal, Celebration.
We have reflected on what it means to be a Forum Family and the importance of protecting our own solidarity and we have renewed our collective of commitment to the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent,” said Rabuka.
“I’m very very pleased that the solidarity of the Forum family have been fully restored” Rabuka told Journalists in Denarau.
“To that end I can confirm that the President of Kiribati Taneti Mamau has signed the Suva Agreement.
In line with the Leaders commitment under the Suva Agreement, they confirm the following:
“We have today appointed Baron Divavesi Waqa as the next Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum effective from 2024.
“We have today appointed Dr Filimon Manoni, a nominee of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, as the Pacific Ocean Commissioner;
“We have agreed to the establishment of a Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific Islands Forum in the Republic of Kiribati; and
“We have agreed to the establishment of a stand-alone Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner in the Republic of Palau.
Rabuka said New Zealand and Australia has offered $3 million for the operationalisation of the Suva Agreement.
On the matter of the planned release by the Government of Japan on the ALPS-treated water, Forum Leaders reaffirmed the importance of science and data to guide the political decisions on the proposed discharge, he said.
Rabuka said the meeting also discussed a range of specific country initiatives that were tabled by Leaders, including: the Regional Seasonal Workers Scheme, Australia’s bid to host COP 31 in partnership with the Pacific region, an update on the Draft Resolution to the UNGA, seeking an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change and Solomon Islands imminent graduation from Least Developed Country Status to be deferred including Kiribati and Tuvalu.
“I am also pleased to confirm that at the end of the Retreat, Fiji has handed over the role of Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum to Prime Minister Brown and the Government of the Cook Islands.
“I am grateful for the opportunity that I have been given to carry this role, albeit for only two months and I am pleased that I was able to contribute in a very small way towards the important outcomes of our meeting today.
“As I handover the baton, I know that we are in good hands as we paddle our Drua to achieve our collective aspirations,” he said.