2 Nov 2005

Kiribati explores roles for I-Kiribati in Australian and New Zealand military

5:06 pm on 2 November 2005

The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, says he would like I-Kiribati to seek overseas employment as peace keepers or as soldiers in Australia and New Zealand.

Smaller Pacific countries have been pushing for New Zealand and Australia to allow in workers from the islands for such activities as seasonal agricultural work.

They say this would boost the island economies through remittances.

Last week's Pacific summit in Port Moresby agreed to give the proposal more consideration.

President Tong says Kiribati has very little to trade and for some years has depended on selling its labour, usually as crew on ships.

But Mr Tong says with its rapidly growing population, Kiribati needs to keep looking for other opportunities.

"Our economy does not allow us to provide that for them so we need to look around. During recent discussions I raised the possibility of having our people on peace keeping missions, even military recruits into New Zealand and maybe Australia as well."