5 Aug 2013

First Pacific Islands Development Forum hailed as historic

1:37 pm on 5 August 2013

The head of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Jimmie Rodgers, has described a Fiji-led regional development forum as historic.

He was speaking at the opening of the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Nadi.

Sally Round reports from Fiji.

"At this morning's guard of honour and traditional welcoming ceremony, leaders from Timor Leste, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Nauru sat alongside Fiji's prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama. Other island states have sent lower ranking officials but not all are represented. Commodore Bainimarama said it was unfortunate some countries viewed it as a political event and chose not to attend. He says leaders must always put their people first and described the forum as a grand coalition of government, business and civil society working towards sustainable development. Hundreds of observers are also attending, including diplomats and academics, and those like Kuwait who have money to lend. Many are here to weigh up the forum's significance and potential."