19 Jul 2010

Vanuatu Foreign Affairs Minister to attend Engaging Fiji meeting

4:16 pm on 19 July 2010

Vanuatu has confirmed its Foreign Affairs Minister will be attending a meeting of Pacific Island countries in Fiji this week.

Joe Natuman will join the leaders of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Kiribati at a gathering in Natadola hosted by Fiji's interim government.

Fiji says seven other island nations are also attending the Engaging Fiji meeting.

The meeting follows last week's scuttling of a Fiji-hosted summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group by Vanuatu's prime minister and MSG chair Edward Natapei.

Vanuatu freelance political journalist, Godwin Ligo, says Mr Natapei's move caused an outcry among opposition politicans and the public.

"Vanuatu did play a very important neutral role in the negotiations between the Melanesian countries and other countries in the Pacific to get Fiji's interim prime minister to call for early elections and to have the impasse resolved. I think the leader of the opposition here feels that has now tarnished relations between Vanuatu and Fiji."

Freelance journalist Godwin Ligo in Vanuatu.

Mr Natapei says the cancellation of the meeting was a collective decision involving the leaders of PNG, Solomon Islands and representatives of the FLNKS in New Caledonia.