Weighing in on the withdrawal of Kiribati amidst the multifaceted challenges that the world has had to deal with including worsening climate atop COVID, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong says it is critical that the Forum remains united.
As such the Australian Government’s position supports whatever the consensus could deliver, she said, adding that as with all other members of the Forum they seek reconciliation.
“Because the most important thing was to ensure that at this time, in a contested world, in a world confronting climate, COVID and the economic recovery from COVID, that the Forum remains united,” Wong said.
Acknowledging the efforts taken by fellow Forum members to mend relations, she says the Australian Government is supportive of the Suva Agreement that was drafted in Suva last month to appease the Micronesian island countries’ following the differences that arose over the appointment of the current Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna in 2021.
Fiji’s Prime Minister and current chair of the Forum Voreqe Bainimarama attempted another reach out to Kiribati President Taneti Maamau in his remarks during the traditional ceremony accorded to the leaders at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.
“The People and Government of Kiribati have been and will remain always, a part of the Pacific family. We share a rich history; we share a vast ocean, and we share a Pacific culture that has withstood the test of time.”
In recognising the Micronesia leader’s stance, Bainimarama said they would not let up in their efforts to dialogue towards a resolution, because only in achieving a united front would leaders be able to make a difference for the health, security, and prosperity of the people of the Pacific.