FIJI'S CHAUDHRY DEFENDS TRIP TO INDIA

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SUVA, Fiji (September 16, 1997 PACNEWS)---Fiji Labour Party Secretary Mahendra Chaudhry denies that his recent trip to India was an attempt to disrupt India's support for Fiji's re-admission to the Commonwealth.

Chaudhry told reporters that he met Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral and opposition leader Atal Behari Vajpayee to discuss the long-term future and security of the people of Indian origin in Fiji, the Daily Post reports.

Chaudhry has come under criticism from all sections of the political spectrum, including his own party, over his publicized visit to India. It followed hard on the heels of a visit there by Fiji opposition leader Jai Ram Reddy, who brought back Indian assurances of support for Fiji's re-entry into the Commonwealth.

It is anticipated that Chaudhry will receive a thorough grilling by senior Labour Party members over his recent actions, which apparently have caused a split in the party hierarchy.

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