PRINCE CHARLES ARRIVES IN FIJI

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Mar.10) - The Prince of Wales arrived in Fiji today and was full of praise for Fiji and its people.

In his brief address at Viseisei Village in Nadi, he told those present that the royal family was fond of Fiji and that the country held a special place in his heart.

Prince Charles used the opportunity to relay his mother, Queen Elizabeth’s, best wishes to the people of Fiji.

Prince Charles was accorded a traditional welcome ceremony at Viseisei following his arrival at the Nadi International Airport.

There he was greeted by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo and hundreds of locals who had gathered at the village prior to his arrival.

"I’m glad to be back in Fiji after 30 years," he said. "I’ve only had the best of memories of my previous visits here. I’m deeply touched by the ceremony accorded to me on this occasion."

He said he was sorry that his visit had to be so short but that nevertheless he looked forward to seeing the developments made in Fiji since his last visit.

Charles arrived in the country at 4 p.m. today and was greeted by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, Foreign Affairs Minister Kaliopate Tavola, Army Commander Voreqe Bainimarama and other officials.

He then inspected the Guard of Honour - stopping occasionally to talk to a soldier.

Josua Racule, who was one of the soldiers that was spoken to, said Charles had thanked him for joining the army and had wished him the best for his future.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside the airport waiting to catch a glimpse of the royal visitor.

Security at the airport was tight and no one was allowed to the tarmac without proper clearances - even Home Affairs Minister Josefa Vosanibola had a difficulty getting in.

Also present at the airport were Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes, Airports Fiji Limited chief executive officer Sakiusa Tuisolia and British High Commissioner Charles Mochan.

Charles will visit a number of places tomorrow, including Castaway Island and he will also pay a house call on Fiji’s oldest living citizen - Bechu Prasad.

He will meet the public at Prince Charles Park in the afternoon, which will be his final place of visit and Charles departs for Tokyo on route to England later in the evening.

March 11, 2005

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