27 Jun 2008

No relaxation of Fiji travel ban, says NZ's Peters

3:30 pm on 27 June 2008

The New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters says there will be no relaxing of the travels bans on people connected with the Fiji interim regime.

Last weekend, Fiji's interim leader pulled his country out of the Pacific Islands Forum's Joint Working Group which has been trying to help that elections be conducted in Fiji by March.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama says the pullout was prompted by the travel bans put in place by Australia and New Zealand which he says are hampering progress in Fiji.

The Pacific Forum chair, Dr Feleti Sevele, says he has raised the bans with Australia and New Zealand, on Fiji's behalf, but Mr Peters says there will be no change.

"I told Commodore Bainimarama in my office that the bans of 2000 would be applied if there was a coup in Fiji, as there was in December 2006. He was told that well in advance, so he was not unaware or surprised by that event. But we have also made if very clear, and for a long time, that if there was clear and demonstrable progress towards elections, then we would look at how we might respond in a more positive way. That has always been our position."

Winston Peters