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'They are not Pacific Islanders' - Frank Bainimarama wants NZ, Aust out of Pacific Forum

Fiji's Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama is calling for New Zealand and Australia to be kicked out of the Pacific Islands Forum, saying "they are not Pacific Islanders".  

Frank Bainimarama, who boycotted the Pacific Islands forum, wants Fiji to take a lead role in the Pacific. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Bainimarama has again boycotted the forum, as Pacific leaders arrive in the Federated States of Micronesia for the annual gathering.  

Fiji was suspended from the forum after the military coup of 2006 and now its Prime Minister shuns it and wants Fiji in the regional driver's seat. 

While bilateral relations improve, Mr Bainimarama's regional view hasn't changed.

"In fact if it was up to me we would remove Australia and New Zealand from the forum," he said.

"I don't think they should be in the forum. They are not Pacific Islanders."

But that's unlikely to happen.

Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, calls Mr Bainimarama's stand radical and unfriendly.

"When he goes out, long after that New Zealand and also Australia and the Pacific Forum will continue to function," the Samoan leader said.

Mr Bainimarama's no-show was expected, according to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key as he touched down for the forum.

"We had expected for some time that Frank Bainimarama wouldn't turn up. They were the indications we got when we were in Suva," Mr Key said. 

"But as I said to Frank when we were over there, New Zealand isn't going anywhere when it comes to the Pacific Forum," Mr Key added.

Fiji is working to reconfigure the Pacific, building ties with non-traditional partners like China and Russia.