Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Honourable Sitiveni Rabuka met with his Cook Islands counterpart, Honourable Mark Brown, at the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Special Retreat held this week in Nadi. With the unity of our Micronesian brothers and sisters intact, he added our political commitment to reform the Forum will now gain full steam with Kiribati’s return and subsequent signing of the Suva Agreement later this week. During the meeting, Prime Minister Rabuka emphasised that Fiji places great importance on its relations with Cook Islands as Pacific Island Developing States and stewards of large maritime spaces. Prime Minister Rabuka also highlighted that the relations between the two nations have continued to grow from strength to strength. He added that our bilateral relations have grown over the years, through our collective participation and advocacy in regional and at international forums. The two leaders during their first meeting, discussed key areas of cooperation to further advance Fiji and Cook Island’s bilateral relations. The Head of the Coalition Government also took the opportunity to congratulate Hon. Brown as the incoming Chair of the Forum, pledging Fiji’s full support in order to maintain a strong voice and action on issues vital to our Pacific family. At the same time, he thanked his Cook Islands counterpart for his leadership in representing the Forum Chair to Japan to meet with the Prime Minister of Japan (Prime Minister Kishida) in February to discuss the issue of “Fukushima Discharge of Nuclear Waste” into the Pacific Ocean. On regional issues, the Prime Minister thanked Hon. Brown for his leadership and their support during our chairmanship of the Pacific Islands Forum. In his response, Hon. Brown conveyed his sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Rabuka for the warm welcome they received upon arrival, saying they are looking forward to a productive Forum Special Leaders Meeting. He also congratulated Prime Minister Rabuka for Fiji’s strong and decisive leadership of the Forum, adding Cook Islands will work towards further advancing the interests of the Forum.