30 Jul 2009

US says restoration of Fiji democracy will restore closer relations

1:50 pm on 30 July 2009

A top United States official says the restoration of democracy in Fiji will restore closer relations between the two countries.

The comment, from the US State Department's director for Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs, comes just after the announcement of the retirement of Fiji's President and as police continue to detain Methodist clergy.

Nellie Husband reports.

"Alcy Frelick today told the US House Subcommittee Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment on US policy towards Pacific nations the most troubling political issue facing the region continues to be Fiji's situation. She said the US had valued its close partnership with Fiji but the 2006 military coup had strained that relationship. Ms Frelick said sanctions after the coup were targeted at Fiji's military regime and don't preclude assistance in support of a credible return to democracy. She made reference to the public emergency regulations in place since April, saying the interim government has so far shown no sign of taking credible steps to restore democratic rule. She said the US believes a return of democracy in Fiji will depend on the restoration of such basic human rights as freedom of speech and assembly."