14 Apr 2007

Fiji Interim prime minister defends snub to American diplomat

8:08 am on 14 April 2007

Fiji's interim prime minister says his refusal to meet a senior United States official in Suva this week was meant to send a clear signal to Washington that his government will only engage with countries genuinely committed to helping Fiji.

Commodore Bainimarama refused to meet the visiting US assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, Glyn Davies.

Commodore Bainimarama says only a month ago Mr Davies had spoken from thousands of miles away through video conferencing demanding that the military restore democracy immediately without understanding the complex problems facing Fiji.

The interim prime minister also criticised Mr Davies saying his ambassador in Suva, Larry Dinger, had been part of a group of diplomats who visited the military camp just days before the military take over wanting to talk to his officers in his absence.

Commodore Bainimarama says this was clearly an act of interference and an attempt to incite mutiny.

He asked how Mr Davies could have accompanied the same ambassador to call on him under the pretext of a courtesy visit while claiming to be "a friend of Fiji."

Commodore Bainimarama says his government will only engage with the European Union and Pacific Forum countries joint working group.