20 May 2008

Fiji death threats vile, says Australian Foreign Minister

8:55 pm on 20 May 2008

The Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has described death threats against Australia's High Commissioner in Fiji as vile and repugnant.

His comments came as the Government moved to repatriate the families of diplomats in Suva.

It will pay for families of diplomatic staff to voluntarily return to Australia after the Fiji interim government continued to ignore requests for extra security at the mission in Suva.

The move came after Fiji refused a request from Australia for two unarmed Australian Federal Police officers to provide personal protection for the High Commissioner, James Batley.

It also says Fiji is not doing enough to protect the Australians.

But the interim Fiji government says it is not necessary for the diplomats families to leave the country.

The interim Foreign Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says they are providing adequate protection for Mr Batley.

And he also denied Fiji had not responded to calls for more police to patrol the commission.