Fiji says Kiribati has decided to return to Pacific Islands Forum

Sydney, Australia, Jan 30 (EFE).- Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, said Monday that Kiribati has decided to return to the Pacific Islands Forum, six months after leaving it amid geopolitical tension in the region by the influence of China.

“Kiribati will return to the Pacific Islands Forum. As we expected, he (Kiribati President Taneti Maamau) wrote everything he said, that they intend to return to the Pacific Islands Forum,” Rabuka wrote on his account. Twitter.

The decision has been made public after Rabuka, whose country currently chairs the forum, traveled to Kiribati two weeks ago to get his return to the bloc, considered important for the cohesion and influence of the Pacific islands.

Kiribati withdrew from the forum in protest because someone from Micronesia had not been chosen to fill the body’s general secretariat, as stipulated in an unwritten pact for the rotation of the position between this sub-region and those of Polynesia and Micronesia.

Kiribati’s comeback also comes after Rabuka defeated former Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama in elections in December.

With the departure of Kiribati, which re-established its diplomatic ties with Beijing in 2019 after breaking relations with Taiwan, the Pacific Islands Forum was weakened at a time the region saw the expansion of China’s influence, especially after the signing of a security agreement with the Solomon Islands.

Countries such as Australia and the United States fear that this pact, which was disclosed in April and was negotiated opaquely, will allow China to establish military bases in the region, something Beijing and the Solomon Islands have denied.

In June, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi toured the Pacific to seal a regional security and cooperation agreement with 10 Pacific nations, including Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, but failed to do so.

The Pacific Islands Forum brings together Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

It also has as associate members Tokelau, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Wallis and Futuna, as well as the Asian Development Bank, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, the World Bank and the United Nations. EFE


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