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Twenty five countries have confirmed that they are sending observers to the inaugural Pacific Islands Development Forum meeting that begins in Nadi on Monday. They will join the leaders and ministers of 14 countries from the Pacific region, plus NGOs and business leaders, who are converging on the Sheraton Resort at Denarau for the three day summit.

Special envoys are coming from China, Russia and a range of countries such as Chile and Cuba and government ministers are being sent to represent the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar. Some of the external observers are contributing to the cost of the event.

The chief guest is the President of Timor Leste (East Timor), Xanana Gusmao, who gained global fame for leading his country's struggle for independence from Portugal and Indonesia. The Pacific leaders include the Presidents and Prime Ministers of Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Nauru, the Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu, the Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia plus senior ministers from a range of other Pacific nations and territories.

A unique feature of the PIDF – that distinguishes it from the Pacific Forum – is that it includes NGOs, business leaders and civil society groups from throughout the region, many of whom are speaking at the gathering.