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Talks Focus On Hostage Release

USP Journalism online (new UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/ USP Journalism ("mirror" of gagged site): http://www.sidsnet.org/pacific/usp/journ /

SUVA: Talks today are aimed at the signing of an accord being drafted by the military and George Speight's rebels, the Fiji Times reports.

The accord was drafted by lawyers from both parties yesterday and will be discussed from 10am at the home of Tui Vuda Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

Once the accord is signed it will open the way for the release of 31 hostages held at Parliament House.

"The accord is an extensive agreement almost like a timetable on the events that will happen after both parties have agreed and signed," said rebel legal draftsman Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure.

The accord includes the releasing of the hostages, returning of weapons to the military, amnesty to Speight and his men and the role of the military government.

It will also deal with the making of decrees and legislation.

Sources close to discussions said the decree would address the role of the President and the Great Council of Chiefs.

"It is not necessary for the accord to be printed or gazetted because it states what generally is going to happen when we agree," Ratu Rakuita said.

There were no talks at Ratu Josefa's residence yesterday because the military needed time to draft their accord.

Army spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini said their advisers were looking carefully at the draft.

Lt-Col Tarakinikini added that the meeting today would focus on the accords.

An agreement would lead to the quick release of the hostages, he said.

"We have agreed to this accord and we have yet to hear a response from the other party," said Lt-Col Tarakinikini.

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