29 Aug 2005

US and Australia refuse to help Fiji with Iraq deployment

10:14 am on 29 August 2005

The refusal of the United States and Australia to provide protective gear for more Fiji soldiers destined to go to Iraq has resulted in their deployment being put on hold.

A military spokesman, Lt Col Orisi Rabukawaqa, has told Fiji TV that the United States had provided protective gear for the first group of 134 soldiers sent to Iraq for the United Nations last year.

But, he says, this time around both the United States and Australia are fully committed to their own global war against terrorism.

The 90 troops were originally scheduled to go in early October.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of the ministry of home affairs, Dr Lesi Korovavala, says Fiji remains committed to keeping its present troops in Iraq on station.

He says a report last week that the government had decided to withdraw the troops was not correct as only the next deployment has been put on hold.