12 Jul 2005

Fiji foreign minister worried about "new Cold War" in the Pacific

3:11 pm on 12 July 2005

Fiji's foreign minister, Kaliopate Tavola, is worried a new Cold War could develop in the Pacific region.

The Fiji Times quotes Mr Tavola as saying this could be the result of the British government's decision to downsize its presence in the Pacific region which will create a political vacuum.

Mr Tavola says Fiji's not happy with Britain's decision to withdraw from bilateral ties with island states in the region and has informed London accordingly.

He has criticised Britain's change in policy to focus more on Africa, adding that the power vacuum created by this could be exploited by others.

Mr Tavola says the traditional rivalry between China and Taiwan, as well as Japan and China, could spill into the Pacific and cause another Cold War.

His comments come as Britain closed its diplomatic office in Kiribati and is about to close missions in Vanuatu and Tonga.

It has already withdrawn from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community; of which it was a founding member and major donor.