27 Nov 2007

Fiji's interim education minister allowed to enter New Zealand

9:20 am on 27 November 2007

Fiji's interim education minister, Netani Sukanaivalu, has been allowed to enter New Zealand to attend a meeting of his counterparts from Pacific Forum countries.

This comes at a time when New Zealand maintains a travel ban on members of Fiji's interim administration, senior government officials, thousands of members of the military and their relatives as part of its post-coup sanctions.

Mr Sukanaivalu expressed surprise he was issued a visa but said he was grateful because the children of Fiji would benefit.

The press secretary of the New Zealand ministry of foreign affairs, James Funnell, said the Fiji minister was allowed into the country because his government did not want the work of the Forum Secretariat to be affected by the travel bans.

He said the decision to allow the exemption in this case in no way suggests any change in thinking by the New Zealand government on its sanctions policy.