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The island nation of Kiribati has withdrawn from the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) over a leadership dispute and what it described as “reluctance” by the regional intergovernmental organization to address concerns by Micronesian countries.

The decision, which is likely to deal a blow to Pacific regional unity, came ahead of a four-day PIF leaders’ meeting in Fiji’s capital, Suva, where the now 17-member body began talks on Monday on several important issues, including climate change, economic challenges and Beijing’s push for closer economic and security ties.

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