Four Pacific leaders will not be attending this year’s 52 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting, which officially opens this evening in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

This was confirmed by Forum Deputy Secretary General Esala Naayasi during the press briefing in Rarotonga.

The four leaders are James Marape of Papua New Guinea, Manasseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands, Charlot Salwai of Vanuatu and New Zealand Prime Minister elect Christopher Luxon.

Papua New Guinea will be represented by Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso while Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai will represented by Climate Change Minister Ralph Regenvanu.

Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele will lead its delegation to the Forum as Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is “tied down with duties as Minister for Pacific Games” and Parliament.

Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and his counterparts from Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, David Adeang of Nauru, David Kabua of Marshall Islands, Wesley Simina of the Federated States of Micronesia and Taneti Maamau of Kiribati arrived in Rarotonga last night on a Fiji Airways special flight from Nadi.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will travel to Cook Islands for the meeting later in the week in time for the Leaders retreat while New Zealand will send a representative of the incoming National government and deputy prime minister from the caretaker Labour government.NZ foreign affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee will be accompanied by outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni at the Forum.

Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Mark Brown along with government officials, and the Cook Islands community have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this year’s Forum.

“I extend a heartfelt Cook Islands ‘Kia Orana’ to all esteemed Pacific Leaders who have gathered in Rarotonga for the 52nd Meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders. I welcome you to our little paradise, comprising fifteen islands spread across nearly two-million square kilometres of the ocean,” said Prime Minister Brown.

This year’s PIFLM is hosted by the Cook Is lands under the theme ‘Our Voices, Our Choices, Our Pacific Way: Promote, Partner, Prosper’.

The meeting will be chaired by Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown.

This gathering is a unique opportunity for Leaders to address pressing issues and challenges facing the Blue Pacific Continent, and foster collaboration and cooperation in the pursuit of shared goals.

The Forum Leaders will consider a number of important regional issues which includes the endorsement of an Implementation Plan for the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent; climate change, a Regional Framework for climate mobility, the legal establishment of the Pacific Resilience Facility and the adoption of a Declaration on the Continuation of Statehood in the face of climate induced sea level rise, nuclear related issues, labour mobility and security issues.

Leaders will also consider the Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity – a key initiative of the Forum Chair that draws from the collective actions of the 2050 Implementation Plan.

Today, Leaders will go into sub-regional meetings – the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Micronesian Presidential Summit (MPS), Polynesia Leaders Group (PLG) and Smaller Island States (SIS) Leaders meeting before the official opening of the Forum Leaders Meeting later today.