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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 20, 2002 – Daily Post/FijiLive)---Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has told a senior visiting official from India that he and his government strongly favor and support the strengthening of relations with India. This will include increased cooperation in technical assistance, trade, investment, tourism and other areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.

Mr. P. Shashank is the secretary of economic relations in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.

Mr. Qarase expressed his determination that Fiji "is to establish a high commission in India at the earliest opportunity."

Mr. Qarase said two previous governments had made a commitment to establish such a diplomatic presence in India, but it had yet to materialize.

"This government is determined to proceed with it, and would welcome assistance from the government of India in the establishment of a Fiji high commission in New Delhi," he said.

Mr. Qarase conveyed his thanks to the government of India for what he refereed to as "India's understanding attitude to what happened in Fiji from the period of 19 May 2000."

Mr. Qarase said he respected the position taken by India in making known its views on events on events and developments in Fiji, but he greatly appreciated India's view that the solution to problems in Fiji and the development of Fiji’s future is a matter for the people of Fiji themselves to resolve.

In the other discussions, Mr. Qarase and Mr. Shashank agreed that the two governments would actively pursue bilateral cooperation and this would include India providing technical assistance in specific areas, such as the development of information technology-related industries in Fiji, engineering, education, health and other areas of development needs in Fiji.

Mr. Shashank conveyed India's interest in becoming a dialogue partner with Forum island countries and attend the meetings that follow the annual Pacific Islands Forum summit.

India is interested in cooperating closely with Fiji and other Pacific island countries in dealing with such issues as international terrorism, drug-trafficking and economic and technical cooperation, Mr. Shashank, said.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

For additional reports from FijiLive, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

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