FIJI PRIME MINISTER’S PLANNED TRIP TO INDIA DEFENDED

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FIJI PRIME MINISTER’S PLANNED TRIP TO INDIA DEFENDED

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 5) – Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has found an unsuspecting ally for his planned trip to India next month after criticism from an American-based group, which monitors the concerns of people of Indian origin.

Citizens Constitutional Forum Executive Director Reverend Akuila Yabaki said the visit will be witnessed by people of all ethnicity and the public acceptance of India as a partner of Fiji and vice versa would promote an improvement in their relationships.

The Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) called on India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to cancel Qarase’s visit to India.

GOPIO says if Qarase makes a state visit to India, it could be viewed as a slap in the face of the Indian community in Fiji.

Reverend Yabaki said it was likely that India’s leader would raise concerns that GOPIO had mentioned with Qarase as well as other matters such as landless Indo-Fijians, investments, joint ventures and technology transfer.

"Such high level dialogue in our view will be conducive for all of Fiji’s people,"he said. "For these reasons, the CCF supports Qarase’s visit on the occasion of the opening of our high commission in Delhi and we wish him well."

The CCF, a nongovernmental organisation, has been of the Fiji government’s strongest critics, especially on the controversial Unity Bill.

GOPIO president Dr Thomas Abraham said they urged the Indian Government to reconsider any grant of technical and financial assistance to Fiji unless these issues are amicably resolved.

Qarase will officially open Fiji’s mission in New Delhi and hold bilateral talks with Indian officials there next month.

September 6, 2005

Fijilive: www.fijilive.com

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