Foreign Affairs Minister, Patteson Oti, will not be present during the Plenary Session and the Leaders Retreat of the 38th Pacific Forum Leaders meeting beginning today and Wednesday.

RAMSI, portrayed as one of the successful regional undertaking by Pacific countries, is one of the major issues to be discussed during the two-day Leaders Retreat.

Mr Oti, who arrived in Nuku'alofa yesterday afternoon, said his non-attendance was the result of a Cabinet decision in view of its (Cabinet) recent rejection of the Forum Taskforce RAMSI Review report regarding mechanisms regulating the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

One of the main reasons given by the Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, for his absence was certain inconsistencies by the Forum RAMSI Taskforce Review regarding the operations of the Australian-led RAMSI which resulted on its outright rejection by the Solomon Islands Cabinet.

However, Mr Oti said he will still attend other meetings during his stay in Tonga which includes the Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting, the MSG Breakfast Meeting today morning as well as the 19th Post-Forum Dialogue Partners meeting on Thursday.

Chris Leaua of the Government Communications Unit, who is currently in Tonga, reported that Mr Oti has hinted that he has accepted an invitation to meet with the New Zealand Prime Minister, Ms Helen Clark, later this evening on an invitation by Ms Clark.

The King of Tonga, His Majesty King George Tupou V, will officially open the 38th Forum Leaders meting tomorrow in the capital, Nuku'alofa.