Fiji PM Bainimarama Attends ACP Meeting In PNG

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Leaders hope Fiji can continue to contribute to regional talks

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 22, 2012) – Fiji's interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama has attended a special meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States in Papua New Guinea.

Fiji has not participated at the highest level of Pacific ACP meetings since its suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009 following the country's coup.

At the recent Forum Leaders meeting in Cook Islands, PACP leaders could not agree on allowing Fiji back to their meeting.

As a compromise, PNG offered to host a special session outside the forum process before the end of the year to discuss Fiji's involvement in purely PACP related activities.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said Pacific leaders had gathered in PNG because they wanted Fiji to "participate actively in the issues that relate to the Pacific."

"And as we could not discuss that in issues relating to the forum in Rarotonga, I think this gives us the opportunity to make sure we stick together as a region and as members of the Pacific community," Mr. O'Neill said.

He said trade negotiations with the European Union and a proposed tuna treaty with the United States would also be discussed at the meeting.

The meeting's chairman, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, said he was pleased Fiji had accepted the invitation to attend the meeting.

"We now need to reach a position on the issue of Fiji's participation in PACP meetings at all levels," he said.

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