Fiji PM Sitiveni Rabuka seeks Australian support for Pacific peace zone

Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has proposed the establishment of a Pacific "peace zone".

Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has proposed the establishment of a Pacific "peace zone". Photo: AAP

Fiji’s prime minister is pushing for a Pacific “peace zone” as he reaffirms the Pacific nation’s neutral stance amid a regional competition between the US and China.

The plan would include a commitment to refrain from action “that may jeopardise regional order and stability” and to maintain Pacific nations’ sovereignty, Sitiveni Rabuka said.

“There would be continued emphasis on the Pacific way of dialogue, diplomacy and consensus,” he said in a speech to the Lowy Institute think tank on Tuesday.

“Protection and conservation of the environment would be central – a positive element for more harmony and peace.”

Pacific Island Forum members will discuss the plan at their upcoming meeting in the Cook Islands in November with Mr Rabuka to introduce his plan as a formal motion.

Mr Rabuka also floated sending Fijian peacekeepers to Papua New Guinea to help monitor tribal conflicts.

The former coup leader said Fiji didn’t want to be caught in a struggle between the US and China, saying his people had a good relationship with Beijing, which aids “valuable and appreciated” programs.

“I have to be confident China will be responsive to the peace plan,” he said.

“Fiji’s position is clear, we are friendly with China and the US and do not want to be caught in the struggle between the superpowers.

“Friends, you have been told to look after the Pacific. Don’t abandon us again.”

The Fijian prime minister warned that conflicts across the globe and compounding impacts of climate change could put the planet “on the edge of something terrible”.

“We watch with trepidation as Russia’s war against Ukraine rages on, it is already having a punishing economic impact internationally,” he said.

“If this conflict somehow expands, how will we be affected? Would the nuclear option be unleashed?”

Heightened tensions over Taiwan could also draw the US into a conflict with China in the region, he said.

“Again the main adversaries would likely be those behemoths, China and the United States.

“For us in the Blue Pacific, history may be calling, it might be our manifest destiny to carry banners for peace and speak out for harmony in our time, and forever.”

Rabuka also called for greater co-operation on climate change with Pacific island nations bearing the brunt of more frequent and devastating natural disasters.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong commended Rabuka for advancing the peace proposition.

“It’s a vision we share. Our security is enhanced when we respond to Pacific priorities,” she said as she introduced the Fijian prime minister ahead of his address.


Topics: Fiji
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