In a significant bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Leaders meeting in Rarotonga, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and South Korea’s Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Hon. Seung-hwan Cho discussed strengthening bilateral relations between Fiji and the Republic of Korea.
Prime Minister Rabuka acknowledged the long-standing relations between Fiji and Korea, which have thrived for the past fifty-one (51) years, marked by consistent engagement and close cooperation at bilateral, regional, and international levels.
He expressed his enthusiasm for the ongoing acceleration of cooperation, particularly in new areas, as both nations deepen their mutual partnership.
Highlighting the invaluable role played by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Prime Minister Rabuka commended its contribution to Fiji’s national development aspirations through the implementation of various socio-economic development projects.
He conveyed his appreciation for the ongoing programs supported by the Government of Korea, which have significantly contributed to the development of vital sectors of Fiji’s economy.
One of the key areas discussed was the collaboration to establish the Fiji National Rehabilitation Centre. Prime Minister Rabuka announced that Fiji’s Cabinet has approved the collaboration with KOICA for this project.
The new facility is set to enhance the quality of rehabilitation medical services and provide access to medical care for vulnerable populations.
Looking ahead, Prime Minister Rabuka expressed his willingness to explore more extensive cooperation with Korea in the health sector, including scholarships in specialist medical fields and training opportunities for medical personnel.
The discussion also touched upon partnership and collaboration in the Fisheries and Oceans sector. Both leaders celebrated the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish the Centre for Cooperation on Fisheries and Oceans between Fiji and Korea, with the center set to be based in Fiji.
Prime Minister Rabuka welcomed the elevation of regional relations to a leader’s level through the inaugural Korea-Pacific Island Leaders’ Summit held in Seoul in May.
He emphasised the importance of this summit as a valuable dialogue mechanism for regional engagement and looked forward to deeper collaboration with Korea in areas of mutual interest, including socio-economic development, climate change, disaster risk resilience, and renewable energy.
Regarding the evolving geo-political dynamics, Prime Minister Rabuka expressed the need for Small Island States to navigate the superpower rivalry carefully in order to preserve their interests.
He noted the delicate balancing act required in the ever-changing global landscape and highlighted the importance of collaboration between Fiji and Korea in this context.
The bilateral meeting concluded with a shared commitment to further strengthen Fiji-Korea relations, reflecting the enduring partnership between the two nations.