21 Apr 2010

PNG leader says he stays in touch with Fiji's Frank Bainimarama

9:36 am on 21 April 2010

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea says its vital that dialogue is maintained with the Fiji interim Government.

Sir Michael Somare, who is on a three day visit to New Zealand, says he has established a good understanding with the Fiji interim leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

He says this is an advantage of the less formal Melanesian Spearhead Group, which refused to take action against Fiji despite its suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth.

Sir Michael says the MSG presented an opportunity to try and bring Fiji back to the fold.

"People have said it failed. We don't think it has failed. At least we kept the dialogue going. I mean I can pick up a phone, talk to Bainimarama tonight if I want to, he can talk to me on the phone. At least there is a dialogue and communication that we have established, yes."

Sir Michael Somare says he feels the regime may decide to restore democracy earlier than the 2014 deadline it announced a year ago.