11 Aug 2009

Two Fiji officials attended Forum despite being banned from Australia

6:23 am on 11 August 2009

Two Fiji interim government officials banned from visiting Australia reportedly sneaked into last week's Pacific Islands Forum summit in Cairns by travelling on Solomon Islands passports.

During last week's meeting the two representatives told Papua New Guinea's Post Courier newspaper they turned up at the event to observe, despite Fiji's suspension from the Forum and travel bans on the regime's key members.

The duo also reportedly were at an official welcome dinner hosted by Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith at the Sebel Hotel.

They told the paper they came through Solomon Islands and had no problem with papers.

The Solomon Islands Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua and the country's Forum delegation is yet to comment but earlier the Solomon's Foreign Minister, William Haomae, had backed Fiji's complaints that planned Forum talks on a new trade deal would be in breach of existing arrangements.

The Australian and New Zealand Governments have travel bans on members of the regime that came to power in a coup in 2006.