19 Jun 2009

NZ, Australia 'pressuring China' over Fiji aid - Bainimarama

11:43 am on 19 June 2009

The leader of Fiji's military-led government, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, claims that New Zealand and Australia have asked China to reconsider its aid and funding support for Fiji.

The website Fiji Village reports Mr Bainimarama as saying he's aware of a number of approaches made by New Zealand and Australia over the past few months to ensure that the Fiji economy is crippled.

Fiji Village reports the Australian parliamentary secretary for Pacific Islands affairs, Duncan Kerr, as saying China has been approached by Australia; but he denies saying that Chinese aid to Fiji is hindering sanctions imposed by Canberra and Wellington.

The foreign affairs ministers of both countries say they have concerns that Fiji's worsening economic situation is being compounded by the global recession.

After their regular six-monthly meeting, this time in Wellington, Australia's Stephen Smith said he and Murray McCully discussed the impact of the global downturn on Fiji and the wider Pacific.

He said that issue would become a focus of the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Cairns in August.

Mr Smith told Morning Report that Australia and New Zealand will continue to call for a speedy return to democracy in Fiji, there are no plans to place trade sanctions on the country.