25 Feb 2010

No surprise over Fiji statement - NZ

5:59 pm on 25 February 2010

The New Zealand Government says Fiji's reluctance to re-appoint Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners is not a surprise.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has told Auckland-based Radio Tarana, which is based in Auckland, that there will be no re-appointment of high commissioners for at least two years unless New Zealand and Australia remove sanctions.

A spokeperson at the foreign affair minister's office says this should not affect recent progress to reopen the respective diplomatic missions in Suva and Wellington next month.

He says Commodore Bainimarama's statement is a clarification of Fiji's position following a recent statement by Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully that sanctions against Fiji are to remain in place.

Mr McCully himself has declined to comment on the latest call by the Fiji regime. This year he has met the Fiji Interim foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, several times in a bid to shore up bilateral ties.

There have been tit-for-tat expulsions of top diplomats from Fiji, Australia and New Zealand since a military coup in Fiji in 2006.

Commodore Bainimarama said the issue is unlikely to be resolved for some time.

He also said he may soon hold talks with Mr McCully in Hong Kong.

Commodore Bainimarama deposed the elected government of Fiji in December 2006. It was the fourth coup in Fiji since 1987.