Seats were glaringly empty at the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Suva this morning as Pacific leaders sat down to the first formal gathering.
Prime ministers from Australia and Papua New Guinea are expected to fly into Suva tonight. However, the empty seats with Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Nauru name tags will not be filled.
This morning’s meeting for leaders, observers and associate members was opened by Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who acknowledged the “breakdown in communication’ with the Micronesian bloc.
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He called on the leaders to remember the necessity of re-establishing “our family bonds”.
This morning’s meeting was to bring all members, associate members and observers to the table with heads of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific.
Meanwhile, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna has acknowledged this year’s meeting was “not an ordinary forum”.
“Let is not forget this is an opportunity for us to bond as colleagues,” Puna said.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.