Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Baron Waqa has fired shots at critics who have raised concerns about his suitability to lead the region’s main economic and political organisation.

Waqa began his term at the beginning of June.

He has since made official visits to the Solomon Islands where he met Prime Minsiter Manasseh Sogavare, and to Tonga where he met with Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni to discuss preparations for the 53rd Forum Leaders Meeting in Nuku’alofa.

Speaking to regional journalists in his first press conference on Monday, the former Nauru president said “those issues” flagged by his critics “are all irrelevant at this time”.

“Listen, that’s one side of the story that would be presented. But the main the main issue here is about the Forum and how I will run the Forum according to the best practices,” he said.

“Getting everyone working together and respecting each other.”

Responding to questions about his relationship with the media and how intends to work with journalists, Waqa said he viewed the media as “a partner”.

“To me media is very, very important,” he said.

He said the regions has a “huge population” and was geographically dispersed.

“So it’s important that radio especially, and now even TV…people aren’t getting access to those.

“We need to have an understanding that for us it’s no good we just didn’t make the decisions and we try and put it out and nobody’s airing those out for us.

“So we hope that there has to be a level of collaboration as well where important messages and messaging reach reaches out to people,” said SG Waqa.