4 Jul 2006

Fiji diplomats in PNG working to get five former soldiers safely off Bougainville

7:34 pm on 4 July 2006

The Fiji High Commission in Papua New Guinea says it's focussing on negotiations with parties involved in an effort to secure a safe passage out of Bougainville for five former Fijian soldiers.

The five have been in Bougainville illegally since late last year under contract to a notorious money scam operator Noah Musingku, who has reportedly abandoned his camp.

The five, who were there to train a security detail for Mr Musingku, are now asking for safe passage from the area.

However, previous attempts to get them out have been met with resistance by Mr Musingku's supporters who said they could only leave after they had completed their two-year contracts.

Fiji's High Commissioner to PNG Ratu Isoa Tikoca says the situation needs to be handled cautiously.

"There are political issues that need to be addressed both by the national government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville Autonomous government. There must be some agreement reached in regards to the mode of repatriation. And once that is reached, we are in a position to further dialogue with the other stakeholders in finding the best way to get our boys out from where they are."

Ratu Isoa Tikoca