15 Aug 2008

New Zealand says Fiji is free to hold bilateral talks at Niue Forum

5:28 pm on 15 August 2008

New Zealand has rejected claims by Fiji that its delegation to next week's Pacific Islands Forum in Niue has been barred from meeting its international partners in Auckland.

This comes amid comments by Fiji that it may pull out of the Niue summit because of the restrictions.

But a spokesman for the New Zealand Prime Minister says there is no basis to say New Zealand is preventing the Fiji interim government from attending the talks.

The spokesman says on the contrary, New Zealand has granted exemptions to its travel ban to enable the Fjii delegation to transit through Auckland.

The spokesman says if members wish to take advantage of the countries gathering at the Niue Forum to undertake their own separate bilateral meetings in Niue then they are free to do so.

He says these are not official Forum events.

And he says Fiji is free to arrange any meetings with Forum partners throughout its time in Niue.