As New Delhi renews its bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, India is looking to deepen its relations with the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), which is holding its annual conclave at Cook Islands later this month.
Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed will represent India at the 43rd Pacific Island Forum Meeting and the 24th Post Forum Dialogue Partners Meeting Aug 30-31 at Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.
India is a Dialogue Partner of the PIF since 2002 and has attended all its meetings held annually since then.
As the long-overdue plans for the UN reforms gather apace, India is fine-tuning its diplomacy to target smaller states - as every vote counts in the United Nations General Assembly which has to approve the reforms by two-third majority - as well as established powers to secure their support for its claim for a seat in the reformed UN Security Council.
The Pacific island states have been supportive of India's initiatives at the UN and other multilateral fora, including its bid for the permanent seat at the UNSC.
"Our participation in the PFD-PIF provides us opportunity to enhance our bilateral relations in the region as also in getting support of the Pacific Island Countries to our initiatives at the UN and other multilateral fora," the external affairs ministry said ahead of Ahamed's visit.
Besides the UN reforms, India is looking at its association with the PIF states as an extension of its Look East policy and the important role these countries play in international climate change negotiations.
The forum's importance has been steadily growing, with the US participating at the forum for the first time at the level of secretary of state. Ahamed is expected to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the margins of the forum.
India has been trying to deepen its relations with the Pacific island states by offering developing assistance for various socio-economic projects.
The PIF, an organisation of the heads of government of independent and self-governing countries of the South Pacific Islands, was formed in 1971 to voice joint political views and promotes economic development and regional security cooperation.
The Forum comprises of 16 countries, including Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji (suspended from the Forum since May 2009), Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.