14 Jul 2010

Primacy of Forum a factor in scuttling of MSG meeting in Fiji

4:52 pm on 14 July 2010

The New Zealand Government says it wasn't worried Fiji's planned Melanesian Spearhead Group-Plus summit would undermine the Pacific Islands Forum.

Fiji had intended bringing various Polynesian and Micronesian countries to the meeting, but the MSG summit has been cancelled over concerns it would be chaired by an unelected leader.

New Zealand and Australia have rejected Fiji claims they'd pushed for the meeting to be scuttled, though Australia's Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, says they didn't want the expanded meeting to undermine next month's Forum summit.

His New Zealand counterpart, Murray McCully, says this wasn't a particular concern for him but says it's important that the Forum's prime position is protected.

"The Forum is the pre-eminent body. That doesn't make a sub regional body like the MSG unimportant at all, it's got a very important role to play, but it is important to ensure that the Forum's pre-eminent position is protected, and I know Prime Minister Natapei was particularly concerned, as Forum chair, to ensure he got the balance right."