29 Apr 2004

Nauru must ask for aid if needed, says NZ

10:54 am on 29 April 2004

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Phil Goff says any regional assistance to Nauru is dependent on a request from the island's Government.

Nauru Opposition MP and doctor, Kieren Keke, says the country is on the verge of a Solomon Islands level crisis with government workers unpaid for months, and people struggling for food.

Mr Goff says if the basic nutrition and health needs of the people are not being met, then the Pacific Islands Forum countries would wish to respond.

But Mr Goff says it is the long term challenge posed by the island's financial crisis that needs to be addressed quite urgently.

"How can it move forward; given the collapse of its financial resources, and the short life of the remaining phosphate reserves that they have on the island. I think some fundamental discussions need to take place by the Government and the people of Nauru and in particular with Australia, with which it has had a long term relationship."