UK REOPENS AID TO FIJI

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By Jillian Hicks

SUVA, Fiji Islands (December 29, 2001 – Sun)---The United Kingdom will once again consider applications for funding for small projects from the Fiji Government in the areas of good governance, human rights, conflict prevention and the environment, says its Foreign Office Minister Denis MacShane.

But he said Britain will replace their sanctions if Fiji does not meet its constitutional requirements.

Following the decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) on December 20 to lift Fiji’s suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth, Mr. MacShane said they would also drop their blanket ban on joint military exercises and visits to Fiji by Royal Navy ships.

Possible cooperation in this area will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and will be approved only where they see benefit to ordinary Fijians or to Fiji’s UN peacekeeping forces.

"In keeping with national and EU criteria, we will continue not to issue export licenses for military or security equipment where there is a clear risk that it will be used for internal repression.

"I hope that Fiji’s Government will respond positively to this decision and that it will continue to strive for a speedy and equitable solution to Fiji’s problems.

"There should be no doubt that we will act quickly to re-impose our measures and consider extending their scope in the event that the Government of Fiji fails to meet its constitutional obligations or fully to respect the human and political rights of all of the peoples of Fiji."

Mr. MacShane said the international community continues to watch closely and expects the rights of all of Fiji’s citizens to be fully upheld and respected.

"In response to CMAG’s decision I have decided to review the package of targeted UK measures that John Battle, my predecessor at the Foreign Office, announced on July 21, 2000," he said.

For additional reports from the Fiji Sun, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Sun.

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