Press Release - The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, has rejected comments reportedly made by Lopeti Senituli, Political Advisor and Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of Tonga, "as mischievous and uninformed".

Mr Senituli was speaking during a meeting of the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations (PIANGO) held in Tonga last week.

In response Secretary General Mr Slade said: "There cannot be any question about the commitment of the Forum Secretariat to working with regional civil society organizations."

"The Forum Secretariat will continue to engage with regional civil society organisations. I have a strong personal commitment to this cause, and reported criticisms of the work of the Secretariat in this area are totally unacceptable and unfounded in their allegations and imputations.

There are a number of mechanism by which the Secretariat engages with regional civil society organisations, including the Forum Regional Security Committee and through the Pacific Plan. I will continue to support these processes and ensure that the views of civil society are considered."

The Forum has a range of consultative mechanisms, from accreditation of regional non-state actors to attend Pacific Island Forum meetings, to discussing regional security issues with civil society to inform the Forum Regional Security Committee. The Pacific Plan also acknowledges the importance of engaging with civil society.