6 Jan 2009

Fiji takes step to heal rift

3:23 pm on 6 January 2009

Fiji's government has set up a three-member team to work on improving relations between Fiji and the governments of Australia and New Zealand.

The move follows Fiji's decision to expel New Zealand's acting high commissioner, Caroline McDonald, saying she breached diplomatic protocol.

Ms McDonald was declared persona non grata in December, 18 months after Fiji expelled New Zealand's previous high commissioner, Michael Green.

Fiji's interim attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, is reported to have told the website Fijilive that interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama has written to the New Zealand Government, asking it to hold talks with the new Fiji committee.

The committee is headed by Filipe Bole, Fiji's foreign minister in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says he has yet to receive a response from Australia and New Zealand.

Fiji to attend forum talks

Commodore Bainimarama has confirmed that he will attend this month's special Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea. He boycotted the last summit, held in Niue in August.

The next meeting has been called to discuss Fiji's failure to take steps to return to democracy after a coup there two years ago.