9 Jun 2003

Decision over who Fiji will serve with in Iraq expected next month

7:49 am on 9 June 2003

Fiji's Foreign Minister says a decision is expected next month on whether Fiji soldiers to be sent to Iraq will join a multinational force or US troops.

Kaliopate Tavola says the army commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has held talks in Poland and the US about logistical support for Fiji's soldiers.

Mr Tavola says talks are underway with Fiji's bilateral partners about the costs of sending the up to 700 soldiers to Iraq.

"The first mobilisation is scheduled for mid July and on the First of September all the troops have to be on the ground. We've listened to the Polish Commander, we're listening to the Americans and it is likely that if we do participate, we are most likely to participate in the multi-national force. But we are yet to sort out funding."

The multinational force is administered by Poland and is supported by Bulgaria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the Ukraine.