Otago Daily Times
Ardern urges Micronesia to reconsider
WELLINGTON: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government will do what it can to encourage Micronesian countries to stay in the Pacific Islands Forum.
Nauru, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau and the
Federated States of Micronesia have decided to withdraw from the forum, upset about the appointment of former Cook Islands prime minister Henry Puna as the forum’s secretarygeneral.
They say South Pacific countries dishonoured a ‘‘gentleman’s agreement’’ under which it was Micronesia’s turn.
Ardern yesterday said the Micronesian leaders’ decision was regrettable and saddening.
‘‘We were very saddened by that decision, of course . . . I know that we are going to do what we can to try and encourage the leaders to stay.
‘‘The strength of the Pacific Islands Forum is the wide representation and, of course, we want to see that remain,’’ she said.
Ardern also rejected media reports that New Zealand was backing a particular candidate for the secretarygeneral position.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne appealed to Micronesian countries to remain engaged with the forum.
She said she appreciated the disappointment governments across Micronesia had with the secretarygeneral outcome, but hoped that they would decide to remain engaged with the forum.
Vanuatuan leader of the opposition Ralph Regenvanu, said, ‘‘I think it’s up to the countries that support Pacific regionalism to do something to
. . . address the issue that’s arisen to cause this division.’’ — RNZ