Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says the U.S-Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting is a critical platform to hold one-on-one interactions with President Joe Biden and address national issues.

This marked Rabuka’s first participation in the summit since taking office, and he described it as an enlightening experience.

The Prime Minister said the Leaders’ Summit in Washington reflected how far Fiji and other small island developing states have come in gaining recognition from world superpowers.

“Now we can talk on the world stage with the President of one of the world’s strongest economies and military powers, as equals and as heads of governments.”

When questioned about the Solomon Islands absence from the summit, Rabuka said his counterpart, Manasseh Sogavare, must have had prior commitments.

“When the Solomon Islands Prime Minister couldn’t come, I felt there were more pressing needs at home. So there is nothing to worry about. Solomon Islands will always be Solomon Islands and we have very close relationships with them.”

Claims arose that Sogavare missed the meeting due to the Solomon Islands strong ties with China.

This is because China and the U.S do not see eye-to-eye on a number of issues.

Rabuka stressed that there was nothing wrong with the Solomon Islands maintaining close relations with China.

The Prime Minister said that with the likely chance of the U.S-Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting becoming an annual thing, it reflects the South Pacific as a stable region.