13 Aug 2013

McCully denies any NZ lobbying against new forum

7:03 am on 13 August 2013

The Foreign Minister of New Zealand has denied instructing any of his officials to lobby Pacific countries not to attend the recent Pacific Islands Development Forum in Fiji.

The new forum, initiated by Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has been seen as a rival to the Pacific Islands Forum, from which Fiji is still suspended.

Fiji's Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola says Australia and New Zealand lobbied behind the scenes in an effort to discourage the event, which was attended by 14 countries.

Mr McCully denied the accusations from his Fijian counterpart.

"I'm not aware of any attempt to dissuade people form participating in that forum. Certainly it wasn't done at my request or on my instructions and if I had heard about anything of that sort happening, I would have made sure it stopped."

Mr McCully says the timing of the visit of Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to New Zealand had nothing to do with keeping him away from Fiji.