4 Feb 2010

NZ, Australia and Fiji to work to keep posts open - McCully

9:27 am on 4 February 2010

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says he and his Australian and Fiji counterparts have agreed to work towards re-establishing diplomatic ties.

Diplomats have been expelled from each in tit for tat moves since Commodore Frank Bainimarama took power in Fiji in a coup in December 2006.

Mr McCully and his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith met privately with Fiji foreign minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola on Wednesday in Canberra.

He told Morning Report that restoring diplomatic ties would be a first step to addressing some of the deeper disagreements.

Mr McCully said they sketched out the issues dividing them and will try to resolve the easier ones before tackling harder ones.

He said there is a long way to go before re-establishing normal diplomatic relations with Fiji, with heads of mission returning to Suva and Wellington being the first matter to deal with.

Travel ban waived

Australia waived a travel ban so the Fijian minister could fly to Canberra.

Mr McCully was already in Canberra for a scheduled meeting.

In November, Fiji expelled the New Zeasland and Australian high commissioners over accusations of interference in Fiji's appointment of judges.

Australia and New Zealand reciprocated. However, the ABC reports New Zealand is virtually unable to carry out vital consular tasks in Fiji.

Dr Smith says the meeting does not represent a change in views towards Fiji, but it's hoped there will be further talks.

Mr McCully says Fiji must learn to agree to disagree if relations are to be restored.