22 Dec 2008

Fiji launches strong attack on Australia and New Zealand, but will work to improve relations

7:28 pm on 22 December 2008

The Fiji interim Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has launched a strong attack on New Zealand and Australia, accusing them of bullying and neo-colonialism.

But he has announced a committee will be set up to try and improve the relationship.

This comes amid a continuing diplomatic standoff that threatens to see the New Zealand acting high commissioner expelled - a move that could lead to Fiji's top diplomat sent home from Wellington.

Meanwhile, in five weeks Pacific leaders are to meet and may consider dumping Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum if the country does not recommit to elections next year.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum has told local media his Government wants cordial relationships with all countries and wants to maintain strong relationships with its Pacific neighbours, including Australia and New Zealand.

But he says these need to be built on mutual trust, confidence, respect and dignity.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says the two rich Pacific countries believe they can impose whatever they want in the Pacific and with impunity.

He suggests they are dictating to the Island countries on how they should treat Fiji, and accuses the current chair of the Forum, Niue's Premier, Toke Talagi, of being misleading in his comments.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says they will shortly announce a special team to engender better relations with New Zealand.