19 May 2009

New Zealand PM restates position on Fiji

2:26 pm on 19 May 2009

New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, says this country will remain firm over its stand on Fiji at the next leaders' Forum meeting in August.

This year's annual summit of the Pacific Island Forum will be held in Australia.

Tonga's Prime Minister, Feleti Sevele, has warned against ostracising Fiji and suggested that a different approach from regional neighbours is needed.

Mr Key says New Zealand shares Tonga's concerns about the plight of everyday Fijians, but wants movement from the interim regime:

"We've always stood ready, willing and able to engage and support Fiji as they restore the country to democracy. In the end that remains in the hands of Frank Bainimarama. If he wants to take that step and legitimately engage with us I think all Pacific Forum leaders would stand thereto assist them. Wo don't want to leave them out in the cold nor do we want to sanction an illegitimate regime."

John Key says New Zealand has been softening its travel ban in relation to sport teams, but will maintain its action against members of the interim regime or their families.