21 Nov 2003

Fiji signs deal with US on American ICC stance

4:42 pm on 21 November 2003

The Fiji government says it will sign an agreement with the United States not to hand over its citizens to the International Criminal Court.

Despite criticism and warnings, the foreign minister Kaliopate Tavola, has told parliament that the intended agreement will ensure that Fiji's commitment to the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute establishing it will remain intact.

Mr Tavola has also revealed that he United States has fully normalised relations with Fiji, including the restoration of the military co-operation programme.

A United States embassy spokesman in Suva says it is pleased with the minister's statement, adding that there will now be a number of advantages to Fiji including 1 million US dollars in cash assistance.

Fiji has now joined more than 70 countries which have agreed not to hand over US citizens to the ICC because Washington fears that politically motivated charges could be laid against its nationals.

Earlier this week, the European Union lifted all restrictions on aid to Fiji, releasing 25-million US dollars for a rural primary education and vocational training programme.