9 Jul 2009

Spat over Niue tourism funds overshadows PM's visit

8:03 pm on 9 July 2009

A disagreement over the allocation of funds for tourism in Niue has overshadowed New Zealand Prime Minister John Key's visit.

Radio New Zealand reports Niuean Premier Toke Talagi made no effort to hide his displeasure over what he sees as New Zealand's failure to make the $2 million available.

Mr Key visited Niue on Thursday as part of a goodwill tour of the Pacific.

Mr Talagi says it is crunch time for Niue, which needs the money to boost tourism and its economy.

However, Mr Key says the money will be released once the New Zealand Government is satisfied it will be spent as intended.

Mr Talagi says if New Zealand fails to come to the party, Niue will look to other countries such as China for financial assistance.

A special envoy from the New Zealand Government will go to Niue to try to resolve the standoff.

Fiji not being honest about elections - Niue

The Niuean premier on Thursday said Fiji interim leader Frank Bainimarama is not being "honest" about holding elections in 2014.

Fiji was recently expelled from the Pacific Islands Forum because its interim government went back on a promise to hold elections by March this year.

The Pacific Islands Forum will be held in Australia in August.

Mr Talagi, who is chairman of the forum, says it is difficult to trust the word of Commodore Bainimarama. He says the interim leader is happy with the status quo and will seek to maintain it.

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says the forum has done it all can for Fiji and now it is up to the Fijian people to put pressure on the military regime.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says for Fiji to resume as an active member of the forum, other members would need to see democracy restored within a suitable timeframe, and 2014 was a long way away.

Commodore Bainimarama told Auckland's Radio Tarana he hopes Fiji will be allowed to sit in at the forum meeting in Cairns and, if invited, he will attend.

Commodore Bainimarama was in Vanuatu for an extraordinary meeting of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, whose members backed the suspension.