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Chaudry Denies Accusing US Government

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SYDNEY: Fiji's elected Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry has denied media reports that he accused the US government of having an involvement in the May coup that led to the ousting of his People's Coalition Government.

Chaudhry said today from London that the Clinton Administration was supporting the restoration of his government and the 1997 constitution.

"I never said that the US Government was in any way involved in the coup. Quite the opposite," he said in a statement issue by his Sydney media office.

"But I did direct my remarks at some senior US Embassy staff in Suva who were operating on a personal level over the issue of awarding contracts for forest harvesting," he said.

"That is something entirely different. It's a long way from talking about the role of a few individuals in a diplomatic outpost to accusing the US Government of complicity. The US Government should not be dragged into this. I said nothing about such things.

"I see now, that since the original story was published, the US Embassy has challenged the accuracy of the media reports on this issue. So do I."

Chaudhry said that if he had something to say about US policy in regards

to Fiji he would discuss it directly with State Department officials when he arrived in the United States.

"The fact is that the Clinton Administration and the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have supported democracy and worked to rid the world of unelected regimes such as the one we now have in Fiji.

"Only recently I received a very warm cable from Mrs Albright outlining her smart sanctions against Fiji which include the banning of visits by naval vessels, the cessation of security training and the banning of those involved in the coup from entering the United States.

"Those sanctions speak for themselves."


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