Thursday, March 01, 2007

US Oppose New Fiji Missions

US opposes new missions for Fiji army - Wednesday February 28, 2007

The United States will not support the participation of the Fiji military in new peace operations due to the overthrow of the Qarase government.

But, it needs Fiji soldiers in Iraq to stay.

The Fiji military's presence in Sudan and UN peacekeeping operations in Sinai will also remain, said Glyn Davies, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State, during a video conference with the Fiji media today.

"I think from the stand point of the United Nations, it is difficult to retool and define new militaries to do that," he said, referring to Fiji's 25 year peace keeping operations in Sinai.

"Similarly in UNAMI in Iraq it is a tough environment. It is already a done deal with Fiji.

"So the United States took a decision for the time being that we are not going to support new peacekeeping, but at this stage we are not going to reopen operations already underway. "

Davies said that the United States has valued Fiji's contributions to international peacekeeping operations, including in the Middle East.

"It is unfortunate that the hard-won RFMF reputation for protecting international human rights abroad has been tarnished by serious abuses of those same human rights at home," he said.

"There's this law that prevents us from funding militaries participating in coups…but also for policy reasons we are going to take a very different view in new peace operation opportunities.

"And it is a growth field. The UN every year comes up with new peace keeping operations primarily in Africa but also in other parts of the world."

Davies said that the US is willing to review some of its policy restrictions "if the Fiji military and Interim Government take rapid and decisive steps to return Fiji to democratic rule".

The Fiji military has announced that it will send a troop of 96 soldiers to Sudan and Sinai next month.

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