India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Thursday said India hopes to co-host the third summit of the Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) in the coming months.
“We hope to co-host the third Summit of the Forum for India Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) in the coming months and we would certainly value Fiji’s presence and leadership on that occasion,” Jaishankar said while issuing a joint press statement with Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.
The FIPIC was launched during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Fiji in November 2014. It is a multinational grouping between India and 14 Pacific Islands nations, which include Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
All heads of state/heads of government of the above countries met in Suva, Fiji in November 2014 where the annual summit was conceptualised.
The forum’s objective is to provide necessary information and facilitation regarding prospects of trade and investment, facilitate meetings between the concerned businessmen from both sides, exchange business delegations between India and Pacific Islands countries, online and offline match-making services, organising events / Trade Fairs, according to the FIPIC website.
According to the website, India’s focus has largely been on the Indian Ocean where it has sought to play a major role and protect its strategic and commercial interests. The FIPIC initiative marks a serious effort to expand India’s engagement in the Pacific region.
Jaishankar who arrived at Suva Airport also met with President of Fiji Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere and attended the commissioning of Solar Panel event.
This is the first visit to Fiji of the External Affairs Minister.
The foreign minister met with Fiji Prime Minister and held delegation-level talks. “We reviewed our bilateral ties. We discussed very openly the possibility of adding to it substance, of improving its quality. And there were some specific domains which the Prime Minister in his remarks referred to,” Jaishankar said while delivering the joint statement.
“Today, we discussed regional and global issues of shared interest. We agreed to work more closely towards strengthening our multilateral cooperation, working strongly in international organizations,” the EAM said.
Jaishankar spoke about the launch of the ‘Solarisation of the Pacific Heads of State Residences project’ which is supported by the Government of India and which he said reflects India’s strong commitment to climate action and climate justice.
He said, this project reflects India’s strong commitment to climate action, to climate justice, which is also underlining our shared priorities with the Pacific islands on this very important challenge of climate change.” The foreign minister also said that the two countries had signed and exchanged a visa waiver agreement. “It will certainly be helpful in encouraging greater travel between our two countries. And I would also say the experience of the World Hindi Conference would also surely enthuse all the delegates, their friends and relatives, of which I am sure there are many, to come to Fiji as well,” Jaishankar said.