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NZ government considers Fiji measures

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced that George Speight and his associates would be barred from entering New Zealand, and outlined a list of possible sanctions that may be imposed on Fiji.

"Cabinet has today looked at steps that could be taken in the event of an out come to the current crisis not being acceptable to New Zealand and the international community.

"Consistent with our abhorrence of the actions of George Speight and his associates, those involved in the hostage taking will not be allowed to enter New Zealand.

"The government also today considered the plight of Fijians currently in New Zealand and due to return to their country. The New Zealand Immigration Service has the flexibility to allow Fijian visitors to extend their stay if they do not wish to return to Fiji while the situation is unsettled.

"The government will give consideration to the following actions should the outcome of the crisis not be acceptable to the international community:
 Freezing any new official development aid to Fiji (other than humanitarian assistance).
 Reviewing existing aid projects.
 Freezing the military assistance programme and reviewing defence co-operation arrangements.
 Cancelling any ministerial travel to Fiji.
 Declining to accept any official visitors from Fiji.
 Calling in the Fijian High Commissioner to receive a formal protest.

"The government is consulting with sports bodies about their contacts with Fiji. We are also consulting with the Commonwealth Secretariat and members about the possibility of concerted action within the framework of the Harare Declaration and Millbrook Programme of Action.

"We are holding off taking further steps until the situation becomes clearer. We do not want to take any actions right now which could jeopardise the safety of the hostages.

"In any action taken, we will be looking to ensure a proportionate response which targets the perpetrators while ensuring that the grassroots community does not suffer unduly for the actions of the hostage takers," Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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