4 Sep 2017

Forum leaders gather in Samoa

10:06 am on 4 September 2017

Pacific leaders have been arriving in Samoa for a week of regional meetings.

Today the Small Island States Leaders will meet and tomorrow there will be the official opening of the 48th Pacific Islands Forum summit.

No caption

Photo: RNZI/ Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who will be taking over the chairmanship of the Forum, highlighted this week's summit theme of 'The Blue Pacific.

He said it aims to ensure a sustainable, secure, resilient and peaceful Pacific.

"Implementing the Blue Pacific will require a whole of Forum commitment to the benefits of acting together as one blue continent. Above all else it will require a different way of working together that prioritises the Blue Pacific as the core driver of foreign policy-making and collective action," he said.

Tuilaepa already held a bilateral meeting with French Polynesia's Edouard Fritch as a precursor to the Polynesian Leaders Group summit which is also due to be held today.

At the Forum summit most countries will be represented by their respective heads of government.

Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor

Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat Dame Meg Taylor Photo: RNZI Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

The secretary-general of the Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, said she regretted that Fiji wouldn't be represented by its prime minister.

"Fiji has played a very important role in the Oceans Conference. It will play a very important role in COP23 as we go ahead. I would have very much wished that the prime minister would have been here and carried the flag with the Pacific going ahead. Now the prime minister will do it the way he wants to."

New Zealand will send a senior minister and New Caledonia will be represented by the caretaker president after last week's failure in Noumea to elect a government.

400 police officers have been assigned to provide security for delegations of the Forum meeting as well as the annual tourism Teuila Festival which is also underway this week.