Vanuatu to miss Pacific Islands summit with Biden at White House -official
Vanuatu to miss Pacific Islands summit with Biden at White House -official
Vanuatu to miss Pacific Islands summit with Biden at White House -official
by DZRH News22 September 2023
FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu of Vanuatu addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

By Kirsty Needham

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman won't attend a Pacific Islands summit with U.S. President Joe Biden next week, an official from his office told Reuters, because all government lawmakers need to be in parliament on Monday for a no-confidence vote.

Biden will host a second summit with leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum at the White House on Monday, Washington time, as part of his efforts to step up engagement with a region where the U.S. is in a battle for influence with China.

The summit with the 18-member forum will take place on Monday and Tuesday in Washington.


Kilman was elected prime minister by lawmakers two weeks ago to replace Ishmael Kalsakau, who lost a no-confidence vote in parliament for actions including signing a security pact with U.S. ally Australia.

On Monday, Vanuatu's parliament will hold another no-confidence vote, with the government seeking to suspend Kalsakau, a parliament official told Reuters.

All government lawmakers need to be in parliament and the trade minister has also been urgently recalled from an international visit, another official said.

"The Prime Minister will not be attending the summit because they have the parliament meeting," said an official from the prime minister's office.


Kilman would not have enough time to travel from Vanuatu to the United States for the Washington meeting.

The United States is seeking to open an embassy in Vanuatu and increase its engagement with the nation which has a "non-aligned" foreign policy.

China is Vanuatu's biggest external creditor, and last month sent police experts to sign a policing agreement.

Kilman has said he would revisit a security pact signed with Australia, a major aid donor, that is yet ratified by parliament, to ensure it was in Vanuatu's national interest.


Kilman did not attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. Vanuatu has previously had a high profile on climate change activism on behalf of small island states.

In March, the United Nations agreed to support Vanuatu's resolution to ask the world's top court to define the obligations of states to combat climate change, a legal opinion that could drive countries to take stronger measures and clarify international law.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Michael Perry)

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