Sunday, 22 June 2008 1:31 AM

Fiji Pulls Out of Talks with Joint Working Group

Following Fiji's interim government's questioning of the Joint working Group's merit, Fiji has pulled out of the talks.

Reports from Fiji media state that Commodore Bainimarama made the confirmation yesterday.
According to Fijilive, Bainimarama stated, "I have decided that Fiji will no longer participate in the Forum Working Group meetings until such time the positions of Australia and New Zealand are genuine."

He added, "They (NZ) haven't done anything to assist us and they have no appreciation for what the Government is doing to move Fiji forward."

Earlier, the Joint Working Group had called on Fiji to remain engaged in the talks.

According to Fijilive, the Joint Working Group chairman and Papua New Guinea's High Commissioner to Fiji, said that 'that "Forum members regard the Working Group as a valuable channel for dialogue between officials; one they would be disappointed to see closed" and that the members "encourage Fiji to remain engaged with its regional neighbours by continuing to be a member of the Working Group".

New Zealand and Australia have publicly denounced the military-led coup of 2006 and have constantly urged Fiji's interim government to hold democratic elections and return the country to democratic rule. However, Fiji's inability to confirm if it will hold elections next year has caused tension between the countries.