7 May 2007

Fiji representatives to join Pacific leaders at meeting in Washington

10:49 am on 7 May 2007

Fiji will be represented at the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, which begins in Washington later toda,y despite American opposition to the interim administration.

The interim minister for public service, Poseci Bune, and the permanent secretary for the Prime Minister's Office, Parmesh Chand, left for Washington at the weekend.

The interim prime minister, Commodore Bainimarama has not been invited but he says he is grateful that Fiji is being given an opportunity to engage with Pacific Island leaders despite the strong stand taken by the US on Fiji.

The Commodore has been denied travel visas to the US as part of the snctions following the December coup

Meanwhile, American Samoa's congressman in Washington, Faleomavaenga Eni Hunkin, says the deliberate exclusion of the interim prime minister is proof of double standards by the US government.

Faleomavaenga has publicly questioned why different standards are set for Pakistan where General Musharaff staged a coup six years ago but the US waived sanctions