9 Feb 2011

Fiji and Tonga govts continue talks on reef dispute

11:03 am on 9 February 2011

The Fiji and Tonga governments are continuing talks over the disputed Minerva Reef, which they both claim rights to.

Fiji's deputy permanent secretary of foreign affairs, Sila Balawa, has told FBC News that the two countries' ambassadors to the United Nations are leading discussions on the issue.

Mr Balawa says Fiji received a report late last year that Tonga was constructing two structures on the reef.

The ministry of foreign affairs then complained to the Tonga government that the structures were being built on Fiji's territory.

In Fijian history the reef is regarded as the fishing ground of the ancestors of the people of Ono-i-Lau.

Tonga's claim is founded on a Royal Declaration by the late King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV - when he declared the reef as Tongan territory nearly 40 years ago.

Mr Balawa says Tonga is one of Fiji's closest friends and they hope to resolve the issue through peaceful dialogue.