25 Feb, 2020 5:00am
It’ll be all pomp and ceremony in the Fijian capital today as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pays her first official visit to the country and only the second by a leader from this country since democracy was restored there in 2014.
Ardern landed in Suva not long before midnight last night. The military forces formed a guard of honour for Ardern to inspect while the brass band punctuated the night air.
The official term for her visit is soft diplomacy meaning anything controversial will be put to one side.
Ardern has met Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama on several occasions at various conferences and she clearly likes the former Naval Commodore who took over the country in 2006. She says the stand-out for him is his love of family and says their meetings have always started with him wanting to see photographs of her daughter Neve. They’ll get plenty of opportunity to admire family photos today.
The pair begin proceedings at the magnificent, colonial Grand Pacific Hotel which was restored at a cost of cost US$50 million ($79.1m) in 2014 – the year the country returned to democracy – after standing a in dilapidated state since 1992.
There Ardern will be expected to drink kava, a traditional ground root drink that looks like muddy water, from a coconut shell, before making a brief address.
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