Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NZ wants to re-engage with Fiji, says Key

December 23, 2009 -

Reports out of New Zealand say Prime Minister John Key is seeking renewed engagement with the Fiji government a month after Australia and New Zealand’s envoys to Fiji were sent home in tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions.

Key has told New Zealand media that discussions are under way between Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully to have a New Zealand High Commissioner return to Fiji.

He is also quoted as saying he wants to have dialogue with Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimama.

“I am in the process of sending him (Bainimarama) a letter … for trying to engage in more dialogue. We have been a bit disappointed with the way things have gone this year. We are not anti-Frank Bainimarama. We do want to see democracy restored in Fiji. And we are prepared to do whatever it takes … to allow that to take place,” Key told radio station Tarana.

New Zealand last week made a $100,000 contribution to relief efforts in Fiji following Cyclone Mick.

“Fiji remains a close neighbour despite our differences,” said Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

“Our contribution to relief efforts in the wake of Cyclone Mick is a reminder of New Zealand’s continued willingness to help the people of Fiji,” he said.

New Zealand’s acting High Commissioner to Fiji Todd Cleaver and Australian envoy James Batley were given 24 hours to leave Fiji early November after Bainimarama accused both countries of interfering with the appointment of Sri Lankan judges to the Fiji judiciary.

Subsequently, Fiji's acting head of mission in Wellington, Kuliniasi Seru Savou and envoy to Australia Kamlesh Arya were both declared persona non-grata and ordered to leave.

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