5 Aug 2009

Australian PM decries treatment of Methodists in Fiji

9:12 pm on 5 August 2009

The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told the Pacific Islands Forum that any solution to the problems facing Fiji, must be a peaceful one.

In his speech during the welcome ceremony, the outgoing chairman, Niue's Toke Talagi, called for the people of Fiji to challenge the country's illegal regime.

Mr Talagi said they must accept some responsibility for restoring their own country to democracy.

However, Kevin Rudd says any solution must be of a peaceful nature.

And he has decried the recent treatment of Methodist ministers in Fiji.

"The fact that in recent times we have seen the arrest of mnisters of religion in Fiji is not the 'Pacific Way'. The people of Fiji deserve better and we look forward to their return to the family of democracies across the Pacific region."

Meanwhile Kevin Rudd has acknowledged that climate change is the great challenge for the Pacific islands.

He says there needs to be a lift in efforts to deliver the outcome the world needs by the time of the climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

Mr Rudd says the island countries will bear the worst of the impacts of climate change and there is a need for concerted action both locally and globally to meet the challenge.

With only 123 days to go before Copenhagen the world has a window of opportunity to deal with mitigation and adaptation, and to deliver increased financial measures in order to act on climate change.

Earlier this week Pacific small island states called for New Zealand and Australia to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2020 and 85 percent by 2050.