21 Feb 2010

NZ, Fiji to reopen missions

5:01 pm on 21 February 2010

New Zealand and Fiji are to reopen their respective diplomatic missions in Suva and Wellington next month.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully confirmed the New Zealand High Commission in Fiji is to reopen in March, after meeting with Fiji Foreign Affairs Minister Inoke Kubuabola in Suva on Saturday in what he described as a fruitful and respectful discussion.

The Fiji High Commission in Wellington is also to reopen, with Mere Tora already here to take up the position of first secretary and acting head of mission.

Phillip Taula will arrive in Suva in early March to take up the position of acting head of mission at the New Zealand High Commission.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since the 2006 coup and further deteriorated last year with the tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats.

Both ministers say they remain committed to maintaining dialogue and to ensuring both countries have effective diplomatic representation in each country.

International pressure working says pro-democracy group

A spokesperson for the Auckland-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji, Nik Naidu, says the country's decision to reopen diplomatic relations with New Zealand shows international pressure is working.

He says while Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's government is an illegal regime, New Zealand has no choice but to work with it.

But Mr Naidu says the military is forcing its ideas on the local population and international pressure is working because they are coming to the table to talk.

He says the restoration of diplomatic missions is a positive step.