3 Jul 2003

Fiji foreign minister says peacekeepers may be diverted from Iraq to Solomon Islands

10:07 am on 3 July 2003

The Fiji Peacekeepers Association has asked the United States and Britain not to accept Fiji soldiers for duty in Iraq.

The request has been made in letters to American and British diplomats in Suva.

The association says Fiji soldiers should not be engaged in further peacekeeping duties abroad until their claim for more than 112 million US dollars in outstanding allowances for previous peacekeeping missions is paid.

Meanwhile, the military is sending a team of senior officers to Iraq this week on a reconnaissance mission to look at logistics and support for basing Fiji troops there.

But the minister for foreign affairs, Kaliopate Tavola, is quoted as saying moves to send troops to Iraq are at a standstill because funding from bilateral trade partners like the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have not materialised.

He says peacekeeping duties intended for Iraq will now be directed to Solomon Islands following a resolution by Pacific Island foreign ministers in Sydney this week.