India would take advantage of the opportunity to shore up its relations with the small island states at Pacific Islands Forum. These islands had often offered crucial support to India at multilateral fora.
Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed would lead the Indian delegation at the post-forum dialogue partners meeting at Cooks Islands on August 31. Sources said India has had only limited interaction with the Pacific Island states, though they had proved supportive for Indian positions at multilateral fora as well as for its candidature in a reformed UNSC. It was pointed out that India’s interaction with Pacific Island countries was part of the extension of its Look East policy as well as an indication of the importance of smaller island countries in international climate change negotiations.
On the foreign aid front, India gives over $1,25,00 as annual grant-in-aid to 14 eligible Pacific Island countries separately, along with one scholarship for undergraduate or postgraduate studies for those from each country.