Forum Decides To Maintain Suspension Of Fiji

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Leaders recognize ‘some progress’ towards democracy

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Sept. 1, 2012) – Leaders from the Pacific region have wrapped up the Pacific Islands Forum with a decision to maintain Fiji's suspension from the group and a call for more reliable aid.

It follows three days of talks on the remote One Foot Island in Aitutaki, Cook Islands.

They collectively agreed Fiji would not be allowed back into the Forum.

However, they said the country's interim government had made progress towards democracy and will be permitted to participate in a parallel gathering of Pacific countries.

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key said it was good that Fiji had committed to elections in 2014 but insisted there is still some way to go.

"We wouldn't say the process is perfect but we would say they're making some progress and it seems more likely to us that Frank Bainimarama will honour his word and actually hold those elections," he said.

"We've heard it before, haven't necessarily seen delivery, but we're a little more hopeful."

The leaders also used their summit to ask aid donors to make their assistance more reliable and more predictable, and they called for more help in fighting illegal fishing.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, says the American Navy is now going to join the US coastguard in helping Pacific Island countries protect their fisheries.

Marshall Islands will host the next Pacific Islands Forum in 2013.

[PIR editor’s note: According to a report in the Solomon Star the Solomons Islands also launched a last minute bid to host the Forum in 2013 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of RAMSI. The bid failed as the Leaders welcomed the offer by the RMI to serve as hosts.]

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