3 Aug 2009

Vanuatu Chiefs had role in push for more dialogue over Fiji

6:20 am on 3 August 2009

The Vanuatu foreign minister, Joe Natuman, says the government decision to push for further dialogue with Fiji was influenced by an approach from the Vanuatu National Council of Chiefs.

Mr Natuman says before last month's summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, some Fiji chiefs asked for assistance from their Vanuatu counterparts, who relayed this to the prime minister.

The Fiji interim regime suspended the Fiji chief's body at the start of a campaign to suppress dissent, which has now been extended to the media and the Methodist church.

Mr Natuman says his government was also approached, prompting the MSG to urge the Fiji interim leader to seek a wider dialogue.

"We received communication from Fiji, from the churches and the council of chiefs that they would like to get some dialogue going. So we prepared us Melanesians, following Melanesian traditions and values, to facilitate discussion between parties involved in Fiji."