19 Oct 2004

Fiji army says Iraq deployment definite

4:06 pm on 19 October 2004

The Fiji army says a contingent of its soldiers is definitely heading for Iraq, even if the security situation there deteriorates.

A Fiji army spokesperson, Neumi Leweni, says an advance group of army personnel is due back from Baghdad next week with a report on how best to deploy the soldiers.

The United Nations has asked for international help in guarding its Baghdad mission and the Fiji government has agreed to send 133 men.

The Australian government turned down the UN request but did agree to Fiji's request to train and equip its soldiers.

Mr Leweni says the Fiji government agreed to the UN plea for help, before it found out Australia had refused the same request.

"The decision had nothing to do with the Australians. That is solely a decision by our government. As far as we are concerned, it's just another mission."