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Fijian High Commissioner called in

Foreign Minister Phil Goff called Fijian High Commissioner HE Isimeli Bainimara in to his Wellington office at noon today to express directly New Zealand's condemnation of events in Fiji and the failure of authorities to make progress towards restoring democracy.

"I deeply regret that our relationship with Fiji once one of our warmest and most friendly is now destined to become cool and distant.

"A normal relationship between our two countries can only be re-established when there is evidence of action by Fijian authorities to take the country back to democratic processes and a non racist constitution.

"New Zealand is appalled at the damage Fiji is doing to itself, at its near economic collapse and the reputation it is fast gaining for chronic political instability.

"Much more has been damaged by this than Fiji's friendly image. Fiji's demise is harming the reputation of the entire South Pacific.

"The wider international community today sees the region as being one of instability and insecurity.

"I expressed to Mr Bainimara our concern at the lack of effective authority in Fiji and at the apparent ability of Speight and his extremists to call the shots.

"We seem likely to see a further repeat of the indecisiveness and lack of resolve to move against criminal elements which marked the eight weeks of the hostage crisis.

"I have made Mr Bainimara fully aware of the measures taken against Fiji by the New Zealand Government.

"I have asked him to convey in the strongest possible terms to President Iloilo our concern at Fiji's failure to make progress towards the re-establishment of democratic government.

ENDS


Contact: Paul Goldsmith 04 471 9794 025 477 982

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