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Samoa’s Fiji mission opens

Samoa opened its first diplomatic mission in Fiji on Tuesday night.

Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said it had taken Samoa a long time to do so despite having a strong relationship with Fiji.

The journey to Fiji also allowed the Samoan leader to be part of the broader Pacific community that has been calling for a unified Pacific.

She was able to attend the meeting chaired by the Pacific Islands Forum chair and Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, to convince Micronesian states upset with the selection of the Forum secretary general to remain in the Pacific group.

Ms Mata’afa was quick to tell China on their visit that she would deal with agreements affecting the region on a collective basis through the Forum.

It was obvious that she would play a key role in the meeting during the day on Tuesday.

“The opportunity to do so is coincident with the invitation of our Pacific family to come together and discuss issues of national concern and interest,” Ms Mata’fa said.

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa share a laugh at the opening of the Samoa diplomatic mission in Suva. Picture: Fijian Government

“The decision to join the majority of our Pacific community, to set up office in Fiji is testament of our support for regional unity and cohesion. And be part of collective dialogues for a deepened relationship.”

Ms Mata’fa said Samoa had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Fiji for development cooperation.

Ms Mata’afa’s view of diplomacy towards Fiji is much different from her predecessor Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who was more critical than diplomatic.

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Mr Bainimarama said Suva had developed into the hub of Pacific multilateralism.

He said Fiji and Samoa had been in contact for centuries and it had shown in its intertwined culture. He said Samoa’s support towards a united Pacific had come at a very good time.

Samoan PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa with Samoan students from the USP Suva campus at the new Samoan diplomatic mission in Suva. Picture: Fijian Government

“Climate action, ocean preservation, and nutrition security are the causes we choose because it is obvious, they will determine our destiny. Most of our citizens live within shouting distance of a shoreline,” said Mr Bainimarama.

“They are threatened by the same storms and the same rising sea. For their sake, we must speak with one voice, work with one resolve, towards the one future that guarantees our security –– a world that keeps below 1.5 degrees Celcius of warming.”

A day earlier, the Cook Islands High Commission was opened in a similar style.

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