16 May 2011

NZ says patrol vessel on goodwill visit to Tonga

3:44 pm on 16 May 2011

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says a navy vessel that arrived in Tonga on Monday is there on a goodwill visit - not because of the tension between Tonga and Fiji.

A Fijian court has issued a warrant for the arrest of military officer Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, who is charged with sedition and has fled to Tonga.

In response on Monday, the Tongan Prime Minister has issued a statement saying his country has no interest in interfering in Fiji's domestic affairs, indicating that the matter will be left to the courts.

Mr McCully says the New Zealand Government is watching the developments carefully and is heartened by the statement from Tonga.

The minister says some thought was given as to whether patrol vessel HMNZS Otago should deviate from a planned two-day stop in Tonga on a trip around the Pacific, but says there was no reason for the visit not to go ahead.