27 Jul 2007

Foreign Minister suggested as alternative for Fiji's Commodore Bainmarama at Forum summit

1:56 pm on 27 July 2007

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, is suggesting the Pacific Islands Forum invite Fiji to send its interim Foreign Minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, to the leaders summit in Tonga in October.

New Zealand and Australia have voiced their opposition to Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Bainimarama, attending, but Sir Michael, who was made acting chairman of the Forum after the coup last December, says the channels for dialogue need to be kept open.

Sir Michael, who is currently involved in trying to put together a governing coalition in PNG following this month's elections, says he wants to put his views to the other Pacific leaders next week.

"I would be quite happy if Ratu Epeli could be accepted by all the other Island leaders. Knowing Fiji tradition, Ratu Epeli is a Cakobau, he is very well respected, and Bainimarama comes from his line of chieftaincy."