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Fiji Time: 10:19 AM on Tuesday 23 September

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Bring Fiji back

Timoci Vula In Port Moresby, Png
Thursday, November 22, 2012

FIJI'S re-inclusion in the Pacific Islands Forum featured prominently in the Special Pacific ACP meeting of the 14-member countries at the Royal Papua Yacht Club in Port Moresby yesterday.

And in a show of 'brotherly love', member countries, Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands openly expressed their support on the need to get Fiji back into the fold and to be actively involved in talks regarding regional issues.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill while welcoming the member countries said they would take the opportunity presented at the special meet "because we want Fiji to participate actively on issues relating to the Pacific as we could not discuss the issues relating to the forum in Rarotonga".

"I think this gives us the opportunity to make sure we are still together as a region, as members of the Pacific community," he said.

"Fiji being a foundation member of the Pacific ACP is a valuable player and I am certain that their return to the fold would strengthen our grouping's collective resolve to address political, economic and social and environmental issues affecting our region.

"I am certain that we as members of the PACP, the Pacific chapter can see our way clear to collectively agree in the Pacific way to allow a Pacific brother that has been out of our system for a quite while to return to our village and be a part of us again.

"I personally feel that to remain engaged with Fiji and to allow it to return would be a very positive step forward and complement their existing efforts to return to full parliamentary democracy in the immediate future," said Mr O'Neill.

Also discussed at yesterday's 'closed-door' meeting were updates on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) and a status report on the multi-lateral fisheries treaty negotiations with the US.

Mr O'Neill said while PNG and Fiji had an interim EPA with the EU, he encouraged member countries to work closely with one another to develop a regional approach towards forging a comprehensive economic partnership agreement package that was beneficial to all.

Commodore Bainimarama led a delegation of senior government officials to PNG, including permanent secretary for Trade and Commerce Shaheen Ali and Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.


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