9 Sep 2013

Fiji hopes for new and positive phase in relations with Australia

1:29 pm on 9 September 2013

Fiji's prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has expressed hope for a new and positive phase in relations between Fiji and Australia, following Tony Abbott's victory in the polls at the weekend.

New faces on the leaders' benches in Canberra could herald a thaw in icy diplomatic relations.

The Fiji government says Commodore Bainimarama has sent the prime minister-elect warm congratulations on behalf of the government and the people of Fiji.

Commodore Bainimarama says Fiji appreciates the understanding shown it by Australia's incoming Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and looks forward to constructive engagement.

Ms Bishop earlier signalled a change in approach to Fiji which she said would be guided by Fiji.

Last month, Suva complained the Labour government's policy on asylum seekers displayed arrogance and high-handedness and it also complained of Australian and New Zealand interference at a new Fiji-led forum for Pacific Island countries.

It said high level diplomatic links between Australia and Fiji would not be restored until at least after elections, which it has promised by the end of next September.

Commodore Bainimarama now says there are plenty of opportunities for renewed collaboration with Australia in the run-up to elections.