PM’s fruitful visit to Kiribati

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Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka is accorded a guard of honour during his inaugural State visit to Kiribati early this month. Picture: FIJI GOVT

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s inaugural state visit to Kiribati has borne fruit after the government of Kiribati formally announced its intent to rejoin the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in 2023.

A statement issued by the Government of Kiribati on Monday also highlighted the decision came following a “fruitful, positive, and successful” bilateral meeting held between PIF chair Henry Puna, Mr Rabuka and Kiribati President Taneti Maamau.

“During the state visit, the Prime Minister also formally delivered an apology by showcasing the traditional Fijian ceremony seeking forgiveness from Kiribati and then followed with a bilateral talk between the two leaders,” the statement read.

“The meeting focused on strengthening bilateral relations between Fiji and Kiribati and discussed the restoration of unity in the Blue Pacific family as well as reaffirming the need to collectively work in unity and promote regional cooperation as enshrined in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.”

Kiribati’s exclusion from PIF drew regional interest.

The country withdrew its membership in July last year after they felt concerns raised by Micronesian countries were largely ignored by the Forum.

Even Australian Deputy PM Richard Marles had weighed in on the topic during his state visit to Fiji late last year, voicing out that Kiribati remained a valued member of the Forum and they should be brought back into the PIF.

For Mr Rabuka, Kiribati back into the fold meant greater regional unity and development.

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