21 Nov 2005

Fiji to send diplomat to PNG island of Bougainville

4:38 pm on 21 November 2005

The Fiji High Commission in Papua New Guinea is to send a diplomat to Bougainville this week to assist the autonomous government in attempts to repatriate eight former Fiji soldiers.

This follows concerns expressed by the autonomous government that the group was allegedly training youths on the use of high-powered weapons in the no-go zone on the island.

The Fiji Times reports that Foreign Affairs Minister, Kaliopate Tavola, says this is the best the Fiji Government can do as efforts to further communicate with the group have proved futile.

The High Commissioner to PNG, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, has spoken once to three of the Fijians, who assured him they would get on a flight to Buka but this did not eventuate.

The Fiji Times quotes Mr Tavola as saying that each time they ring now, someone answers the phone and says the Fijians are not available.

Mr Tavola says while they will send a diplomat to Buka to assist the officials on Bougainville, they won't send him into the no-go zone.

Ratu Inoke is reported to have assured Bougainville that the eight were no longer members of the Fiji Military Forces and that the Fiji Government did not support their activities.