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Pacific leaders to meet then head to White House

A special meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum leaders is set to take place in Fiji in September and following that they are bound to meet with United States president Joe Biden.

A special invitation was extended to Mr Biden from the Forum chair and Fijian prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama in May to attend the leaders meeting, but this did not eventuate.

Instead, the leaders meeting was greeted by vice president Kamala Harris virtually where the US delivered their promises to the region.

Now a special invite has been forwarded to the Pacific by US deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman who made stops in Samoa and Tonga and is currently in the Solomon Islands.

She said President Biden was looking forward to welcoming Pacific leaders to the White House in September, which will coincide with the week of the United Nations’ General Assembly.

The exact dates for the US meeting are yet to be confirmed.

However, sources at the Pacific Islands Forum have confirmed that a special meeting of the Pacific leaders is set to take place in September in Suva.

Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama and US vice president Kamala Harris in the White House last week. Picture – Fijian Government

There is no indication as to what the agenda is going to be but there have been hints that it includes bringing Kiribati back into the Forum and presenting a united picture to the United Nations General Assembly.

Forum chair, Mr Bainimarama met with Kamala Harris last week and in that meeting, an indication was given that the US leader was going to meet with the Pacific leaders.

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Meanwhile this week the Forum Economic Ministers meeting starts in Vanuatu. This is an annual gathering of the finance and economic ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Prior to the Ministers meeting, the regions senior finance and economic officials meet to deliberate on issues which will be put forward to the Ministers.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman speaking at a seminar. Picture – Wendy R Sherman Twitter

The FEMM is a powerful regional platform and an opportunity for Pacific Ministers to discuss and share experiences on regional solutions to shared development issues. Ministers will consider the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, recently endorsed by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders.

The priority issued in Vanuatu looks to be the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and its ensuing economic strategies and pathways that ensure effective delivery of the vision of the Pacific Island Forum Leaders through the Blue Pacific Economic Strategy.

There will be discussions on regional initiatives driven by the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Taskforce that discussed national and regional efforts that enabled members to cope and recover post pandemic in a sustainable manner.

The ministers will provide updates on the Pacific Resilience Facility and advocate for the need to establish sustainable and accountable funding approaches. These would fill the financing gaps that members require in order to build resilience against climate-induced natural disasters and climate change as well as establish buffers to allow members to cushion potential economic shocks.

They will also look at leveraging climate and disaster risk finance.

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