Pacific Islands Forum chair welcomes Micronesia's 'exit pause'



By Pita Ligaiula

Suva --The Pacific Islands Forum Chair, acting Prime Minister of Fiji Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, said the temporary suspension of the Federated States of Micronesia's withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum will help the ongoing discussions toward a resolution.

In a statement released last night, Sayed-Khaiyum said the temporary suspension of withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum, “is a positive development that is testament to the ongoing value of our Pacific Way, leadership and dialogue.”

The temporary suspension, which President Panuelo's statement noted as June 2022, “now allows us the time we need to progress and finalize our ongoing discussions,” said the statement.

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The statement did not respond to information released by the Micronesia President to media this week revealing a deal involving the exit of current Secretary General Henry Puna from the forum to halt the departure of the five Micronesia members.

The Forum has kept details of the negotiations process closed, saying findings have to go before Forum Leaders first. The news from Panuelo revealed Puna may leave the Forum keeping his role as the Pacific Oceans Commissioner. He has been widely advocating the Oceans work and was in France this month for the French President's Oceans Summit. The appointment process was also covered in the interview, with signs pointing to voting on nominations by subregional rotation beginning with Micronesia.


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The Forum's statement did not cover any of those revelations, and it is likely there will not be any details until the leaders' meeting.

“The solidarity of our Forum family is and has always been our priority and we remain committed to working towards an outcome that considers the views of all Forum leaders. While I am very encouraged by the latest discussions towards a resolution, I also recognize and respect the sensitivities and fluidity of the ongoing political process, which will require the consideration and decision of all Forum Leaders,” said the PIF chair.

The statement confirmed Forum leaders will meet in a special leaders retreat next month, “to collectively discuss and agree on immediate next steps. This meeting will be followed by a face-to-face Forum leaders meeting to take place in the middle of the year in Suva, Fiji.” (PacNews)



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