17 Oct 2007

Pacific leaders meet in Tonga's Vava'u today to discuss raft of issues

6:41 am on 17 October 2007

Fiji's progress back to democracy and the reaction of Solomon Islands to a report on the Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI, will dominate discussions when Pacific Islands leaders meet in retreat today on Vava'u.

It is the culmination of the two day talk, the leaders' annual summit.

Don Wiseman reports from Tonga.

"While the slogan of the annual leaders' summit is together we can secure a peaceful future, there are different interpretations of how to get there. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark remains adamant that she will maintain her hardline on not talking with Fiji's Commodore Bainimarama. But at yesterday's opening ceremony, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, in his speech marking the end of his chairmanship of the Forum said a member of our family needs our understanding and assistance - we wouldn't be doing justice if we sought solely punitive action for a member of the family. Earlier the Fiji leader had received the loudest applause when he arrived at the summit opening. The review of the RAMSI report will go ahead despite Solomon Islands boycotting because it says it does not allays its worries about the mission. Helen Clark says she believes it does satisfy all the criticisms raised last year by the Solomons' Prime Minister. The Australia Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, says the Solomons absence is unwise and he hopes the other 15 countries endorse the report. A progress report the Pacific Plan on greater regional co-operation will be on the table - many countries, particularly the small island states see it as a way to solve many of their concerns."