SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 6, 2009) - A three-member team, headed by interim Education Minister Filipe Bole, will work at mending bilateral relations between Fiji and New Zealand.

Interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama wrote to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key outlining a way forward.

"The (interim) Prime Minister, in his letter to John Key, had set out a way forward for New Zealand and Fiji to engage in a constructive and meaningful manner," he said. "In this respect the (interim) Prime Minister also said that a three-member panel to be headed by the interim Minister of Education, Filipe Bole, who has been a foreign minister and deputy PM of Fiji, could expedite any outstanding issues and facilitate a diplomatic way forward by engaging with the New Zealand officials in Wellington.

"The Government of Fiji's position has always been the same, that is, all diplomats -- as required under the respective convention and norms of diplomacy -- must engage with the government of the state to which they are posted to. The Australia and New Zealand diplomats since the appointment of the interim Government have been actively disengaged with it and have been undiplomatic to say the least, breaking all rules of accepted diplomatic behaviour."

Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, Caroline McDonald, was declared persona-non-grata by the interim regime and left the country. New Zealand, in retaliation, did the same to Acting Fiji High Commissioner to New Zealand, Cama Tuiloma.

Both acting high commissioners returned to their respective countries last week.

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