22 February 2010

New Zealand Embassy to reopen in Fiji

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A second round of talks in three weeks has resulted in Fiji and New Zealand agreeing for diplomats to return to their embassies in Wellington and Suva.

New Zealand Embassy

The New Zealand Embassy in Fiji will reopen in March.

The two countries have had strained relations since a military coup in Fiji three years ago, and a last year with both countries expelling senior diplomats.

New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully described the latest talks in Fiji, as "fruitful and respectful", and both McCully and Fiji foreign minister Inoke Kubuabola issued a statement saying they were committed "to maintaining their dialogue and to ensuring both countries had effective diplomatic representation in each country".

The ministers confirmed that Mere Tora had arrived in New Zealand to be acting head of mission at the Fiji High Commission and Phillip Taula would arrive in Suva in early March to be acting head of the New Zealand Embassy.

New Zealand and Australia have been harsh critics of Fiji since military leader Frank Bainimarama led a coup in December 2006, and Mr McCully has stressed this move did not signal a change to views about Fiji's need to return to democracy, nor did it mean sanctions including travel bans would be lifted.

Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth in September last year over Commodore Bainimarama's broken promise to hold elections by March 2009.

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