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Pacific unites once again as Kiribati re-joins the Forum

Staff Reporters

APIA, SAMOA – 23 FEBRUARY 2023: Kiribati has re-joined the Forum Leaders in the 5th Pacific Islands Forum Special Leaders Retreat in Nadi where the leaders are meeting to discuss and resolve issues affecting regionalism since Kiribati pulled out in the middle of last year.

Kiribati President, Taneti Maamau, was greeted on Wednesday by the Forums’ Secretary-General, Henry Puna whose appointment caused the rift as the five Micronesian island countries felt slighted when they missed out again after more than twenty years.

The image of the two leaders greeting each other and sharing a warm embrace, sent out a positive message of unity.

“The Pacific Way” – Puna tweeted, alongside a video showing the two men sharing a warm embrace.

“No words needed,” he added, suggesting that over two years of division and tensions are in the past.

Maamau & Puna handshake

Maamau & Puna handshake

The Micronesian countries held a summit last week and Palau’s President, Surangel Whipps Jnr is confident the Forum is united and said his focus will be firmly on healing past fractures through the Suva Agreement, which is also on the leaders’ agenda in Nadi.

“This is really the first time that the whole Pacific is back together and talking about those issues that are most dear to our hearts,” he said.

He has confirmed to RNZ Pacific that the Micronesian bloc has agreed to endorse Nauru’s former President, Baron Waqa, to be the next Forum Secretary-General.

The 5th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Special Leaders Retreat is for two days and is being held at Denarau Island, near Nadi.