New Zealand says Fiji's statement no surprise

16:53, February 25, 2010      

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The New Zealand government said on Thursday that Fiji's reluctance to re-appoint Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners was not a surprise.

Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama told Auckland-based Radio Tarana that there will be no re-appointment of high commissioners for at least two years unless New Zealand and Australia remove sanctions.

A spokesman at New Zealand Foreign Minister's Office said that this should not affect recent progress to reopen the respective diplomatic missions in Suva and Wellington next month, Radio New Zealand reported.

He said Bainimarama's statement is a clarification of Fiji's position following a recent statement by New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully that sanctions against Fiji are to remain in place.

McCully himself has declined to comment on the latest call by the Fiji's government. This year he has met the Fiji Interim foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, several times in a bid to shore up bilateral ties.

There have been tit-for-tat expulsions of top diplomats from Fiji, Australia and New Zealand since a military coup in Fiji in 2006.

Bainimarama said the issue is unlikely to be resolved for some time.

He also said he may soon hold talks with Mr McCully in Hong Kong.

Bainimarama deposed the elected government of Fiji in December 2006. It was the fourth coup in Fiji since 1987.

Source: Xinhua
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