Fiji’s prime minister will arrive in Australia on Thursday just weeks after criticising Scott Morrison’s “insulting and condescending” attitude.
The Australian prime minister will host Frank Bainimarama as a guest from September 12 to 17.
“Australia and Fiji, a key regional leader, have a strong friendship and a long history of co-operation, shared interests and values,” Mr Morrison said on Wednesday night.
“We are all part of the same Pacific family, the Pacific vuvale.”
At the Pacific Islands Forum in August, Mr Bainimarama launched a scathing attack on Australia’s approach to the island nations, particularly over climate change and new coal mines.
In an interview with Guardian Australia, Mr Bainimarama accused Mr Morrison of being “very insulting and condescending” during a leaders retreat.
“I thought Morrison was a good friend of mine, apparently not,” he said.
Asked if Mr Morrison’s approach might cause some Pacific leaders to look to China, Mr Bainimarama said: “After what we went through with Morrison, nothing can be worse than him.
“China never insults the Pacific.”
But Mr Morrison insisted he has a good relationship with the Pacific, and on Wednesday he said the two leaders had committed to holding more regular meetings.
“We will discuss shared regional challenges such as illegal fishing and climate change, opportunities for increased trade, investment and labour mobility, as well as strengthening our cooperation on defence and security,” Mr Morrison said.
“Australia is committed to stepping up our engagement with Fiji and the Pacific more broadly to address common challenges and deepen longstanding ties in our region.”
This August forum ended with a statement calling on major economies to “rapidly implement their commitment to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.
Many of the forum members wanted to single out coal-fired power for its impact on the climate, but the language was rejected in the final document.