The Pacific’s premier regional body, the Pacific Islands Forum, is concerned that it is being left on the sidelines of a regional dialogue between India and Pacific island countries in Papua New Guinea later this month.
And it has called on PNG to remind the Indian government to respect and work with existing regional mechanisms, such as the PIF.
The Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC), will involve 14 Pacific island States, and will be co-hosted by the prime ministers of India and PNG in Port Moresby.
In a letter to Marape in April, PIF Secretary-General Henry Puna said the FIPIC meeting is crucial but must recognise, respect and work with the existing regional mechanisms, such as the PIF.
“It (FIPIC meeting) is testament to the increasing strategic value of the Pacific and its collective voice globally,” Puna said in the letter dated 06 April.
“With that in mind, and in line with the Forum Leaders’ endorsed Blue Pacific Principles for Dialogue and Engagement, and as host government, you would have the discretion to influence and encourage the Indian government to recognise and respect our regional mechanisms and work with us in upholding the leaders’ vision as outlined in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.”
Marape, in his reply, said he would raise the PIF’s concerns in this month’s Forum, and hoped that the full PIF membership could be part of the next FIPIC dialogue.
He even asked the PIF to provide technical support to the FIPIC dialogue.
“In consultation with the government of India as co-host, we have agreed to maintain the successive hosting arrangements with the understanding that a decision to include the full forum (PIF) membership could be reached collectively at this forum for inclusion in the next (fourth) FIPIC,” Marape told Puna in his reply dated 19 April. “I acknowledge the Forum secretariat’s valuable support and cooperation to ensure that this upcoming event, and more generally the region’s partnership with India, responds to our collective aspirations as the Blue Pacific continent,” he said.