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Fijian PM Bainimarama Visits Middle East

PM visits Middle East

Prime Minister Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama left today (10/12) for an official visit to the Middle East.

Permanent Secretary for the Prime Minister's Office, Parmesh Chand said this will be Commodore Bainimarama's first official visit to the Middle East in his capacity as Prime Minister.

Currently, there are more than 600 Fiji soldiers serving in Sinai and Iraq and this visit will enable the Prime Minister to meet them, obtain first hand briefing and encourage them with moral support and gratitude for their unrelenting efforts in peace-keeping duties, said Mr Chand.

Commodore Bainimarama will be the third Prime Minister of Fiji to ever have taken an official tour of duty to visit the Middle East. Previously, two of Fiji's Prime Minister's have visited Fiji soldiers serving in the Middle East. They were the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka.

Commodore Bainimarama's first stop will be Sudan, where he will visit RFMF personnel serving under the UN banner as observers and peacekeepers. He will then visit the 2nd Fiji Infantry Regiment serving with the Multinational Forces & Observers in Sinai .

The Multinational Forces & Observers in Sinai began following the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The Camp David Accord, was signed in Washington D.C. on 26 March 1979 and provided for the fulfillment of certain functions by the UN Forces and Observers.

Fiji was approached in mid-1981 and agreed to send an Infantry Battalion of 500 of all ranks to Sinai by March 1982.

The Fiji contingent arrived in Sinai to commence peacekeeping operation on 18 March 1982. It was to occupy the boarder line on the northern portion of Sinai desert led by Lieutenant Colonel Jim Sandy.

The Fiji battalion continues to serve in Sinai.

The PM's entourage will then leave for Baghdad to visit the 1st Fiji Infantry Regiment serving with United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was heralded at the Security Council Resolution 1500 adopted on 14 August 2003 as a one-year follow-through mission in the wake of the Oil-for-Food programme handover on 21 November 2003.

Fijian troops provide static and close-in protection for United Nations personnel and facilities in Baghdad.

Currently, there is one Fiji Company based at Dewan, Baghdad and a platoon in Erbil. The first Fiji Contingent Commander to Iraq was Colonel Ratu Meli Saubulinayau.

The PM returns on Monday 24th December, 2007. He is accompanied by Mrs. Bainimarama, his Personal Services Officer (PSO) Captain Aseri Rokoura and a security/bodyguard.

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau is acting as Prime Minister in Commodore Bainimarama's absence.


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