Suva: Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka on Thursday said India stood by his country in times of great need and will always be a special friend and trusted partner.

"I'm pleased to say that India will always be a special friend and trusted partner to Fiji," the Fiji Prime Minister said during a joint press statement with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Suva, Fiji on Thursday.

"Together we've built a robust multifaceted partnership which covers cooperation in all major areas of nation-building. India has stood by us in times of great need. We're grateful to GoI for supporting us through the provision of life-saving vaccines and humanitarian assistance," the Fijian PM said.

He appreciated PM Modi and the Indian government for their support in co-hosting the 12th World Hindi conference in Fiji.

"Fiji appreciates India's commitment towards the development of our pacific region through collective priorities. We are more resolved now than ever to build a strong and sustainable future for families in Fiji, the Pacific and beyond," he said.

He added: "On behalf of Govt of Fiji, I thank the government of India for realising this important cooperation. I'm confident that we will witness many more such initiatives unfolding through the deepening of our cooperation."

The Fiji Prime Minister said further that a lot of people from his country visit India for medical treatment and education.

On the MoU on visa exemption between India and Fiji, the PM said: "We will certainly benefit, though the scale may differ."

On whether China came up in his talks with EAM Jaishankar, Rabuka said, "We thought it was bad manners to talk about somebody who is not in the building. We spoke about our own cooperation and we're very fortunate to have such a great power and economy talking to us."

"We have great old friends and there is no need to look for new friends. There are no really new friends in this region. We have been friends with India, and we have been friends with China. We'll continue our relationship," the Fijian PM said.

Jaishankar on Thursday launched the 'Solarization of Residences of Pacific Heads of State Project' in the presence of Fijian President Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere in Suva.

"Pleased to be call on H.E. Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, President of Fiji in State House in Suva. Jointly inaugurated the Solarization of the State House. This is the first of a series that India is supporting in the Pacific Islands," tweeted Jaishankar.

The 12th World Hindi Conference is being held in Fiji from February 15 to 17. It is being co-hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Fiji government.