13 Feb 2016

Fiji's weaponry no concern for NZ, PM says

4:54 pm on 13 February 2016

Prime Minister John Key says he's not concerned about Fiji's military receiving shipments of weapons donated by Russia.

Russian media report about arms delivery for Fiji forces on UN peace keeping duty

Russian media report about arms delivery for Fiji forces on UN peace keeping duty Photo: Tass

A shipment of 20 containers arrived in Suva last month that contained weapons worth about $10 million, and the country's defence minister said his government was negotiating for a second shipment.

Both Suva and Moscow said the weapons were for Fiji's UN peacekeepers who were operating in volatile areas like the Golan Heights and Sinai.

Mr Key said he was not particularly worried about the arms shipment.

"It depends on what that weaponry is going to be used for. Our main point really when it comes to Fiji and any other Pacific countries is that whatever they do with anybody else is a matter for them.

"As long as they understand that the responsibility rests with them, and that certainly includes soft loans as that they can get, not so much from Russia, but from other countries."

Over the past decade, Fiji has increasingly looked to Russia, China, and India - and away from New Zealand and Australia - as part of its official 'Look North' policy.

Fiji is already in the process of negotiating a second shipment, after the first arrived last month. Russia said the weapons will be used to boost the efficiency of Fiji troops serving with the United Nations.

Fiji defence minister Timoci Natuva said Fiji's participation in big peacekeeping missions was being recognised by bigger countries, hence the assistance.

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