The Fijian Government accorded a traditional ceremony of welcome to the visiting Pacific Islands Forum Leaders at the Grand Pacific Hotel this evening. The Pacific Leaders are visiting our shores this week, for the 51st Pacific Islands Forum Leaders to pursue important discussions that will strengthen regional solidarity and advance shared aspirations in achieving a resilient Pacific region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity.

The Forum Leaders were formally welcomed by the Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Bainimarama said, “A key focus of our Forum Leaders Retreat later this week will be the issue of our regional solidarity and how best we, as a Forum Family, can bolster and galvanize our unity. We simply cannot make the same difference for the health, security, and prosperity of our people, without every Pacific voice helping to chart the course of our region’s direction.”

“Friends, as we very slowly emerge from the grips of COVID-19, our world and our region remain in a state of turmoil. At home, many of us continue to deal with long standing socio-economic challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“We will have the opportunity to consider that Strategy in our Retreat later this week, and I am very optimistic that this supremely important document will serve as our “North Star” for the decades to come – providing us with a long-term vision, key values to guide our way, and a sense of our shared trajectory,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said.

The Pacific Leaders thanked the Fijian Government for the traditional welcome ceremony and for the warm hospitality accorded to them upon their arrival in Fiji. They expressed their appreciation towards the richness of the Fijian culture and the traditions of Fiji and the people of the Pacific.

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Leaders, President of Federated States of Micronesia, H.E David Panuelo said, “ We find strength in unity, as our countries and cultures comes together as one Family, to find common ground to seek peace and prosperity for our Blue Pacific continent and today on this historic occasion as we celebrate 50 years of regionalism Hon. Prime Minister, on behalf of the Pacific Leaders who are here in your presence, we thank you for the tremendous hospitality and warm welcome which you have extended to each and everyone of us.

“Today marks an important day for our Pacific Family where the light shines in our Blue Pacific continent. We thank you Prime Minister and the people of Fiji for welcoming our countries into your country to meet and find common ground for the issues as Pacific peoples. On behalf of the Pacific leaders we extend to you Honourable Prime Minister and people of Fiji and your government, we extend to you our friendship and cooperation. Vinaka Vakalevu.”

The leaders are looking forward to comprehensive deliberations over the next few days at the 51st PIFLM, which will shape future of the Pacific region and strengthen our bonding as #Pacific Vuvale.

The event was attended by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) officials, senior government representatives, Non-Government Organisation reps and dignitaries from the international, regional and national organisations who were present at the ceremony to welcome our leaders.