8 Sep 2015

Nauru accuses New Zealand of bullying

1:37 pm on 8 September 2015

President Baron Waqa says Nauru is a sovereign nation and will not be bullied by bigger countries like New Zealand.

Nauru's President Baron Waqa at the Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers meeting in Sydney.

Baron Waqa at July's Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers meeting in Sydney. Photo: AFP

The island leader made the comment a week after New Zealand suspended US$760,000 in aid to Nauru's justice sector over concerns about human rights abuses.

The Nauru Government hit back saying New Zealand had been misled and was interfering in the island's domestic affairs.

Mr Waqa told Islands Business magazine in Port Moresby, where he is attending the Pacific Islands Forum summit, that nothing will change.

Mr Waqa says Nauru is a sovereign nation and what New Zealand has done borders on bullying.

He says the aid suspension was made unilaterally with no warning to his administration.

Mr Waqa also says there are no plans to meet New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in the margins of this week's summit.

But John Key says he will continue to raise concerns with the Nauru leadership at the summit.

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Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Key says he is confident the steps taken were the right ones, but he intends speaking with Nauru in Port Moresby.

"Don't know if it will be awkward but we will certainly be having a discussion. And personally I think the decision the Minister of Foreign Affairs reached was the right one."

Mr Key departs for Port Moresby this morning.

Mr Waqa also insists women and children are safe in his island's Australian-run detention centre.

A Senate inquiry report last week came up with the opposite conclusion and was scathing of the facility's operation.

It called for high level prison-like security to be scaled back and extra assistance to the island's police and judicial system to deal with abuse allegations.

Mr Waqa told reporters at the Pacific Islands Forum there is no issue with the safety of asylum seekers and he says allegations of rape and abuse are completely unfounded.

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