Puna and Maamau embrace as Pacific unites once again

Pacific leaders from around the region are meeting to discuss and resolve issues affecting regionalism over the next two days in Fiji.

The 5th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Special Leaders Retreat, labelled as a significant milestone, began in the tourism hotspot, Denarau Island, near Nadi, on Thursday morning.

Kiribati, which announced its withdrawal from PIF last year, is back in the fold and the Micronesian nation's return to the Forum family is a key focus of the special meeting.

President, Taneti Maamau, was greeted by the man who has been at the public face of the tensions, PIF secretary-general, Henry Puna on Wednesday.

"The Pacific Way." Puna tweeted, alongside a video showing the two men sharing a warm embrace.

"No words needed," he added, suggesting that over two years of division and tensions are in the past.

Palau's President, Surangel Whipps Jnr is confident the Forum is united - a sentiment echoed amongst Micronesian leaders following a summit last week.

Whipps said his focus will be firmly on healing past fractures through the Suva Agreement, which is also on the leaders' agenda in Nadi.

"This is really the first time that the whole Pacific is back together and talking about those issues that are most dear to our hearts," he said.

He has confirmed to RNZ Pacific that the Micronesian bloc has agreed to endorse Nauru's former president, Baron Waqa, to be the next Forum secretary-general.

Palau has secured the Ocean Commissioner's Office and the Marshall Islands the Ocean Commissioner role.

Both names will be submitted to the Forum leaders when they meet in Nadi today.

"Australia will fund the regional office for the PIF, of course, New Zealand [will] fund the office of the ocean Commissioner," Whipps said.

"I think those were important offices to show that we are not forgotten up here in the north Pacific. We are part of PIF and PIF wants to be inclusive and bring everyone together."