23 Jun 2008

Australia and New Zealand interference is reason for Forum talk suspension, says Fiji regime

1:36 pm on 23 June 2008

Fiji's government says it's suspended talks with the Forum Joint Working Group on Fiji because of what it sees as interference by Australia and New Zealand.

Fiji's interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama suspended talks with the Group late last week after questioning the merit of the talks.

The Ministry of Information's acting deputy secretary, Major Neumi Leweni, says the decision was based mostly on the lack of support by Australia and New Zealand in trying to engage people to assist moving Fiji forward.

He singles out Australia and New Zealand's travel bans on Fiji nationals as continuing to hamper progress in Fiji.

"There had been talks previously and lately and there has not been any assistance forthcoming from Australia and new Zealand and they just seem to hinder the progress so the Prime Minister has decided to suspend it for the moment."

Major Leweni says if there is a need to re-engage with the Working Group later on, the interim regime would consider lifting the suspension.

The group was working towards Fiji's return to democratic rule.

The New Zealand foreign minister, Winston Peters, says it's astonishing that Fiji has suspended the talks.