Fiji has a long-standing prominence in the Pacific Islands; Ratu Mara was instrumental in establishing the first regional organization, now the South Pacific Forum. On 13 October 1970, Fiji became the 127th member of the United Nations (UN). It still participates actively in UN functions, notably in its contributions to UN peacekeeping missions. In fact, in 2002 Qarase indicated to the UN that Fiji would like to be involved in even more peacekeeping missions. Fiji has nearly 1,000 soldiers on active overseas duty, primarily in the Middle East. The country is also a member of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and recently was reinstated in the British Commonwealth, a membership that was withdrawn in the wake of the 2000 coup. The new prime minister has significant international ties to build upon.
Fiji's foreign policy remains generally pro-Western. Australia and New Zealand are its traditional close trading partners, although the 1987 and 2000 coups caused some strain to these relations. In the South Pacific region, Fiji has always been a leader, regarded favorably by other Pacific Island governments despite the country's frequent internal political problems.