13 Oct 2004

Fiji government defends planned Iraq deployment

3:03 pm on 13 October 2004

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has defended the imminent deployment of troops to Iraq for duty with the United Nations.

Mr Qarase says this is Fiji's international obligation and is fundamental to its foreign policy as it has been since 1978 when troops were sent to Southern Lebanon.

He says there is a price and risk in this, but Fiji remains resolved to serve when its troops are needed, adding that the decision to go to Iraq underscores Fiji's belief in the moral legitimacy of the UN and its agencies.

Mr Qarase says in a number of nations ordinary people are more secure and leading better lives because brave men and women from Fiji's military and police have been ready to stand by them in the cause of peace.

Fijian troops will guard the United Nations Office which is about to be re-established in Iraq and provide close personal protection to its staff.

They have been receiving special training in Fiji for this type of work.