3 Jun 2009

US to help Fiji to return to democracy in five years

1:35 pm on 3 June 2009

American Samoa's member of the United States Congress Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin says the United States is willing to help Fiji in its efforts to return to democracy by 2014.

The Fiji Times reports Faleomavaega is on a two-day visit to gauge developments in Fiji.

Speaking at a news conference yesterday, he said he had a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before coming to Fiji and she had assured him that she was willing to help.

The congressman, who also chairs a Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment, says Mrs Clinton has invited him to meet her and has assured him she is willing to help.

Faleomavaega says while a US federal law allowed it to sanction a country that commits a military coup, the sanctions have been very light.

He says he has met the interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade and Peter Eafere, who is PNG's High Commissioner.

He told reporters after his meetings he was encouraged that dialogue had continued despite Fiji's suspension from the Forum.