Samoan PM slams forum critics
Samoa's prime minister has rejected calls for a restructure of the Pacific Islands Forum, labelling critics "stupid" and "ignorant".
It comes after the Vanuatu-based Pacific Institute of Public Policy said the forum needed to become more representative of Pacific Island states or risk becoming irrelevant.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele told Radio Australia the comments, made by executive director Derek Brien, were uniformed.
"I think these are very, very stupid comments. They can only come from a person who does not understand what the forum is doing, [Pacific Islands] Forum Secretariat is doing."
Commentators have raised concerns that the forum can no longer reflect the region's needs while Fiji remains suspended.
"That is again another ignorant comment," Mr Sailele said.
"On issues concerning trade, that is already taken care of -- meetings are currently being held in the Pacific where officials from Fiji are in attendance and ministers."
Mr Sailele said the only "superficial" issue was that Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama was not present at the forum.