30 May 2007

India restates its Fiji policy of engagement with military regime

1:41 pm on 30 May 2007

India's outgoing high commissioner in Suva, Ajay Singh, says India will continue with its policy to engage with Fiji's interim administration instead of isolating it.

Mr Singh has told the Fijilive news website India's policy is to give respect to every country, whether it is big and powerful or small and vulnerable, adding that Fiji happens to be in the second category.

Mr Singh says India believes in quiet diplomacy rather than issuing statements through the media, or threatening or bullying or imposing sanctions that eventually hurt the common man.

India's prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, this month pledged India's continuing assistance to Fiji in areas such as military co-operation, the sugar industry, health, tourism and information technology.

Ajay Singh says the point is to engage, encourage and support a return to normalcy, not try and crush a small country.

On criticism by Canberra based academic Dr Brij Lal and others that India is being opportunistic, Mr Singh says such people do not fully understand India's policies and are influenced to some extent by the viewpoints held in the country of their residence.

He says India's relations with the interim administration have been carried on from previous governments and the point is to move forward.