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Goff On Muanikau Accord

Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today that the Government was hopeful over signs that hostages would be released this Thursday after the public signing of an Accord between the military and the Speight Group.

"The promise to release hostages will, however, attract some scepticism until it actually happens, given past broken promises.

"While the release of the hostages unharmed would be hugely welcomed, it has been achieved at great cost if the price is, as it seems, the inclusion of the Speight group in an interim government.

"New Zealand will wait and see what shape the new administration takes, and what if any commitment it shows to a return of a genuine democracy. The signs, however, are not good.

"The new administration appears likely to contain members of Speight's group and so the interim government is likely to seek to entrench the political superiority of indigenous Fijians over Indo-Fijians. If this occurs the future of New Zealand and Fiji's relationship will be bleak.

"The fact that George Speight is happy about the outcome is in itself cause for concern," Mr Goff said.

"The options open to New Zealand include cutting back on non-humanitarian aid, ending military assistance and reassessing the level of its diplomatic representation in Fiji. Comprehensive economic sanctions and withdrawal of diplomatic relations are not, however, being considered.

"If Fiji chooses to follow the path of the ultra-nationalists it must do so in the knowledge that it's a path that will make them unacceptable to much of the democratic world," Mr Goff concluded.

ENDS


Contact: Paul Goldsmith 04 471 9794 025 477 982



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