25 Nov 2015

Domestic concerns come first for Tonga PM

9:25 pm on 25 November 2015
Tonga's Prime Minister 'Akilisi Pohiva arrives at the Pacific Islands Forum in Port Moresby

Getting off the plane. 'Akilisi Pohiva has chosen not to fly to Paris for the COP21 climate change summit. Photo: Koro Vaka'uta / RNZ

Tonga's Prime Minister says his absence from major international meetings this month comes because there are more pressing domestic matters at home to deal with.

This week 'Akilisi Pohiva joined his Solomon Islands and Vanuatu counterparts as notable Pacific absentees from the meetings.

Earlier Mr Pohiva's office had said he would not be going to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the France-Oceania Summit or the COP21 climate change conference because a medical check had resulted in him not being able to travel long distances.

The Office now says the 74-year-old Prime Minister is in good health but recently spent three weeks in the US and has various concerns to resolve at home.

Mr Pohiva's medical team have advised that he prioritise his health and in his inaugural year the Prime Minister says he wishes to complete certain objectives before year end.

Mr Pohiva says he has confidence that senior members of government will represent Tonga well.

He also says as a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, Polynesia Leaders' Group and Pacific Islands Development Forum, Tonga has already submitted declarations of concern which will be well represented.