10 Jul 2008

NZ foreign minister confirms Fiji trip for Forum talks

6:58 pm on 10 July 2008

The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, has confirmed he will attend a meeting of Pacific foreign ministers next week in Fiji.

The Ministerial Contact Group, set up by the Pacific Islands Forum, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mr Peters says its aim will be assisting Fiji to return to democratic rule after the 2006 military coup.

He says the Fiji interim government recently indicated it would like greater engagement with Forum members, and this visit could help Fiji move forward towards elections.

Mr Peters has welcomed the commitment of the interim government and the leaders of Fiji's political parties to participate in next month's Commonwealth dialogue process, led by Sir Paul Reeves.

And he says he hopes the interim Government will rejoin the Joint Working Group - the group of officials which had been working to ensure elections in Fiji by March next year.

Mr Peters says another pleasing development is Fiji's appointment of an acting high commissioner to Wellington.

He says it is a welcome development given the importance maintaining diplomatic links.

Fiji expelled the New Zealand high commissioner last year.