Indian Prime Minister to meet with Pacific leaders

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, will meet with leaders of Pacific island nations on the sidelines of this week's climate summit at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, will be among regional leaders who will meet with Mr. Modi on Tuesday in the 3rd India-Pacific Islands summit.

Indian media reports named the Pacific island nations as Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. 

The inaugural India-Pacific Islands summit was held in 2014 in Fiji, which Mr. Modi attended and was hosted by Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. The second conference was convened a year later in Jaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan, which the Indian Prime Minister hosted. 

Teesta Prakash, a PhD candidate at the Griffith University in Australia, wrote in a Lowy Institute-published paper in May this year of the benefits of the India-Pacific Islands summit to the Indian government.

“It is expected that in his second term, Modi will carry this momentum forward by reinvigorating India’s ties with the South Pacific in the areas of security and economic cooperation,” she said.

“The biggest push to the region during Modi’s first term was seen in India’s growing diplomacy in the Pacific Island countries. The FIPC-I and FIPIC-II summits held in Suva, Fiji and Jaipur, India highlighted India’s willingness for greater engagement and intention to enhance its development priorities in the region.”

At the last summit in 2015, India pledged $1 million to a special climate fund that would provide technical assistance and capacity training for Pacific Island nations. The Indian government also established the India-Pacific Islands Sustainable Development Conference as part of its commitment to “Samoa Pathway” to development cooperation.

Prakash said India’s engagement with the Pacific is likely to further boost relations with states in the region:

“Still, as Modi begins a second term, his “Act East” foreign policy is likely to further boost engagement between India and the South Pacific region. Modi’s visits to Australia and Fiji have revitalised the ‘Indo-Pacific’ connection, securing India’s strategic as well development interests. What will be telling is if his government is able to include economic cooperation in its regional initiative this time around.”

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