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By Maika Bolatiki

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, July 20) - The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) has abandoned its plan to send soldiers to war-torn Iraq.

Army Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the plan to send a battalion as requested by the United States would have cost F$18 million (US$10 million).

He said two senior officers were in the United States to continue talks on the soldiers’ deployment but were sent back because of the inability of the Government to secure funds.

Cabinet had agreed in principle for Fiji’s participation and the Ministry of Home Affairs was given the task to find funds.

Minister for Home Affairs Joketani Cokanasiga said the U.S. had indicated it wanted Fiji to be part of peacekeeping duties in Iraq. It had wanted about 700 soldiers and some civilians to be part of the peacetime contingent.

The civilians were to help in the rebuilding of the country.

Cokanasiga admitted that the real problem was finding the funds to send the troop.

The commander also gave his support to private companies that had been recruiting some Fiji citizens to work as security guards in Iraq.

One of the private companies is the London-based Global Risks Strategies GRS).

GRS Fiji agent Lieutenant Colonel Sakiusa Raivoce yesterday commended the support from the commander and said most of the officers he had recruited were former soldiers and peacekeepers.

July 21, 2004


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