The Cook Islands prime minister has described Micronesian threats to withdraw from the Pacific Islands Forum as unhelpful for the region.
Leaders of five Micronesian countries have threatened to pull out of the forum if their nominee for secretary-general of its secretariat was not chosen.
They claim a "gentlemen's agreement" was in place for their candidate to get the role.
Mark Brown, of the Cook Islands, said it was a concern at a time when the Pacific as a region needed to work together to confront the health and economic crises created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Brown, whose predecessor Henry Puna is one of five candidates, said calls to quit the forum were "premature" and "extreme".
"If this is going to be an example of how the PIFS [Pacific Island Forum Secretariat] will be run by a Micronesian secretary-general, then it doesn't bode well for the future.
"Right now we need to put the best possible person in the job. This is something we have to work collectively to do, But it'll be a decision by the leaders, and we'll leave it at the leaders' discretion to choose who they think will be best."
Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands said they expected the forum to honour the so-called "gentleman's agreement".