Fiji ministers "angry" at Pacific Islands Forum's suspension warning 2008-08-22 08:41:05   Print

    ALOFI, Niue, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's Interim Foreign Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau gave the first response from the interim government over the Pacific Islands Forum member leaders' warning of suspending Fiji from the forum, saying "Fiji is angry".

    He said on Thursday that it was an "unfortunate" statement from the leaders, which did not show an understanding of Fiji. He also claimed the forum was being "misused" by New Zealand and Australia.

    In Niue, the Pacific leaders have agreed to meet later in the year to consider the option of expelling Fiji from the 16-member grouping of the Pacific Islands Forum.

    It was made after discussions on Fiji's withdrawal from the meeting and refusal to meet the March 2009 election time line.

    A senior member of Fiji's interim government and former foreign affairs minister also believed that threats to expel Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum will fizzle out over time, the Fiji Times daily reported on Friday.

    Filipe Bole, who is the interim education minister, said the move was unprecedented and would not be carried through because "it is not the Pacific way".

    "It will fizzle out. It has never been done in the Pacific and I don't think our Pacific neighbors want to bring Fiji to its knees," Bole said.

    Niue Premier Toke Talagi, the current Forum chair, has said the decision did not further isolate Fiji but, through the process now put in place before the end of the year, hope to re-engage with Fiji.

    New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has said if Fiji carried through with its threats to walk out of the forum, it risked losing significant aid and development funding. The European Union has already held back paying a multi-million dollar contribution to the sugar industry because of the coup.

    She believed Fiji's economy will suffer if it is suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum, adding that any suspension from the Forum would have United Nations backing.

    Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Pacific leaders were losing patience with Fiji's interim government.

    He said Australia will mobilize any resources necessary to restore democracy to Fiji.

Editor: Gao
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