Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Academic suggests new tact in Pacific row

A Fiji-born academic now based in New Zealand has suggested both Fiji and New Zealand show restraint, sensitivity and apply “innovative diplomacy” in restoring diplomatic relations.

Steven Ratuva says both countries should employ silent diplomacy to arrive at a consensus on potential diplomatic appointees, while they work on rebuilding relations.

In an opinion column in the New Zealand Herald, Ratuva said if New Zealand refuses Fiji's proposal to have Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni as counselor at the Fiji High Commission in Wellington, it could “cause the initiative for diplomatic restoration between the two countries to collapse prematurely, and both countries and even the Pacific region would be the losers”.

“This would be unfortunate given the great efforts by the foreign ministers of the two countries who have been meeting to put the restoration process in place.”

Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met with counterparts Australia’s Stephen Smith and New Zealand’s Murray McCully in Canberra this week.

The meeting was initiated by New Zealand in efforts to rebuild ties with Fiji following last year’s diplomatic expulsions by all three neighbors.

Both McCully and Smith said while the talks proved positive, their countries would put off sending high commissioners back to Fiji until they were assured there would be no expulsions in the next disagreement with the Fiji government.

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