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Peters meets key players in Fiji

Peters meets key players in Fiji

New Zealand has promised its continued support to Fiji in the lead up to this year’s general election, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said today.

He said his visit to Fiji this week underlined the importance New Zealand placed on the bilateral relationship, and the key role Fiji plays in the region.

Mr Peters met Fiji’s Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase in Suva today, as well as other key political figures including the Leader of the Opposition Mahendra Chaudhry, the Minister of Finance Ratu Jone Kubuabola and Parliament’s Speaker Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

He also met the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

“New Zealand has a longstanding relationship with Fiji,” Mr Peters said. “We want to see a strengthened partnership, given our many shared interests.

“We were warmly received and I had a very positive and substantive discussion with Mr Qarase. We talked about bilateral and regional cooperation, this year’s general election in Fiji, and the Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill.”

Mr Qarase indicated that the Bill would be amended further and said he envisaged holding more public consultations on the Bill before proceeding further in Parliament.

Mr Peters said that the arrangements put in place after last month’s differences between Fiji’s military and government seemed to be working. “My hopes and expectations are that the issues would be resolved in line with democratic principles.”

Mr Peters also visited the Fiji Elections Office (FEO), to which both New Zealand and Australia are providing support.

NZAID is contributing $5.44 million towards a programme of technical support for the FEO, with elections due by October.

“A fair, reliable and transparent electoral system is essential for any country and New Zealand is happy to support one of its closest Pacific neighbours in achieving this,” concluded Mr Peters.


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