15 Oct 2009

PNG foreign minister clarifies PM's Fiji stance

6:43 pm on 15 October 2009

Papua New Guinea's foreign minister, Sam Abal, says the PNG government has not changed its backing for the Pacific Islands Forum suspension of Fiji from the body.

Pacific leaders announced unanimously in May that Fiji was suspended from the Forum over the interim regime's refusal to hold elections this year.

Fiji has also been suspended from the Commonwealth and in Solomon Islands this week the PNG Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, said Australia and New Zealand should stop shunning Commodore Frank Bainimarama's government.

But Mr Abal says what the Prime Minister wants to see is more conciliation shown by both sides.

"I don't think that we should think that it is [just] New Zealand, and Australia, for that matter. Pacific countries have decided and made their decisions on it, but when we come to the Forum it is the Forum that stands. What our Prime Minister is trying to do is bring the conciliatory, in terms of bringing elections closer - that's the wish of the PNG government to give the people of Fiji an opportunity as soon as possible for elections."

Sam Abal, Papua New Guinea's foreign minister