Forum without Fiji gets exclusive

New Zealand is set to host the annual meeting of the Pacific Island Forum on September 6 in Auckland. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, South African President Jacob Zuma, European Union Commission President Jose Barroso, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kurodo and leaders from 14 Dialogue Partner countries from 14 other countries including China, India and US will be present at the meeting.

It is a pity that Fiji will not be represented at the meeting, which will also mark the 40th anniversary of the Forum. It is said that a founding member of this important regional body will not have the benefit of participating in the deliberations, which are expected to be far-reaching, especially in the wake of global recession.

As a matter of tactics, this is incoherent. By keeping Fiji excluded from the Forum but included in sub-regional gatherings, the Pacific countries are at best sending a mixed message to Mr Bainimarama. This half-and-half approach avoids isolating Fiji completely and leaves the door open to concessions.

It is another awkward fact that the Forum retains its headquarters in Fiji.

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