3 Feb 2010

McCully to meet with Fiji minister in Australia

10:21 pm on 3 February 2010

Fiji's foreign minister has flown to Canberra to meet with ministers from Australia and New Zealand for talks aimed at restoring diplomatic ties.

Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith confirmed on Wednesday he invited Ratu Inoke Kubuabola to the meeting to discuss restoring envoys to their posts in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand following reciprocal expulsions last November.

Australia waived a travel ban that applies to members of Fiji's military-led government so Mr Kubuabola could fly to Canberra, the ABC reports.

Mr Smith says there is no change in Australia's overall position on Fiji's coup in 2006 and lack of democracy in the Pacific nation, and he does not expect a quick return of the expelled high commissioners.

"But we do want to start that dialogue," he says.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, who is in Canberra for a scheduled meeting, says Fiji must learn to agree to disagree if relations are to be restored.

"We are going to have to spend some time trying to get to that point."

Mr Smith says an agreement to meet again would be considered progress.