1 Mar 2007

Fiji to be discussed in NZ PM's White House meeting this month

11:18 am on 1 March 2007

New Zealand's Prime Minister says Fiji will be on the agenda for discussion when she meets United States George Bush later this month in Washington.

Helen Clark admits that the US is very concerned about the post-coup situation in Fiji and particularly human rights abuses in the country.

The US this week urged Fiji to return to democratic rule, saying it will consider easing its post-coup restrictions in return.

Ms Clark says that the US has had a lesser role in the South Pacific since World War II.

She says to an extent the US now looks to countries like New Zealand to take a lead in the region because of its normally good relations with its neighbours.

"Obviously a coup puts tremendous strain on, and then we work with the Pacific Islands Forum and with friends around the world, which includes the United States, to get clear messages through to Fiji that things need to change for normal relations to be restored. And we've found that certainly the US has been taking a big interest in what we've had to say about that."