30 Sep 2015

Fiji and NZ PMs meet in New York

10:09 am on 30 September 2015

For the first time in almost a decade the prime ministers of Fiji and New Zealand have formally met.

John Key and Frank Bainimarama formally meet for the first time. 29 September 2015, New York

John Key and Frank Bainimarama formally meet for the first time. Photo: Twitter / @johnkeypm

The half-hour meeting between John Key and Frank Bainimarama, which took place on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, was the first since the 2006 military coup, led by Mr Bainimarama.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were all but frozen after the coup and only restored after Fiji followed through on promised elections in 2014.

New Zealand supported the suspension of Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum, which was lifted following democratic elections last year.

However, Mr Bainimarama did not attend the Forum in Port Moresby this year, sending his Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubabola instead.

The Fiji Times reports that the pair talked about officially visiting each other's countries in the near future.

"I think I'm the first [New Zealand] prime minister to speak to him since the breakdown in relations in the Helen Clark era," John Key said.

Mr Key indicated that the 2014 elections in Fiji had restored the diplomatic balance.

"They've held elections, it is what it is."

John Key said New Zealand has a lot of friends in Fiji, with a large number of Fijian nationals living in New Zealand.

The New Zealand prime minister said it was time to "put the past behind us and move forward".