Pacific Forum Leaders and Foreign Ministers attended a unique ‘Tok Stori’ hybrid event in Suva.
Last week’s event was initiated by the Solomon Islands as part of a Ministerial visit to Fiji, including a call on the Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Prime Minister of Fiji, the Honorable Josaia V. Bainimarama.
Hosted by the Forum Secretary General Henry Puna at the Forum Secretariat, the dialogue allowed for Forum members to hear directly from the Government of Solomon Islands on the context of its security agreement with China.
In his opening remarks, Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Jeremiah Manele and Minister for Police and Correctional Services, Hon. Anthony Veke welcomed the opportunity to speak to regional colleagues.
Both Ministers highlighted the value of regional security arrangements including the Biketawa, Boe Declarations and Aitutaki Declarations, which also avail the Good Offices of the Forum Secretary General to members to facilitate dialogue on issues of concern within the Forum family.
In tok-stori mode, Forum members reiterated their respect for the sovereign right of every Member to conduct its national affairs free of external interference and coercion. Some Members also took the opportunity to also highlight some of their own regional security concerns, noting the Forum’s shared vision for a region of ‘peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity so that all Pacific people can lead free, healthy and productive lives.
Minister Manele welcomed the chance to dialogue with Members, thanking those present for the opportunity to share an update on Solomon Islands’ efforts to address their national security concerns. He further thanked all Member countries for their comments and expressed support for the sovereign decision taken by Solomon Islands.
In his closing remarks SG Puna noted the significant and ongoing interest from Members in this issue and reaffirmed the value of dialogue in resolving differences of views amongst the Forum Family.