BAINIMARAMA WELCOMES FORUM VISIT

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, December 21) – Fiji military commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday accepted the terms of reference submitted by a Forum Eminent Person's Group.

Commodore Bainimarama in a statement said the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat had requested that a Forum Eminent Person's Group undertake a mission to Fiji soon to consult with the Government and other stakeholders about the current political situation."The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade will consult with the Forum Secretariat to finalise the timing and logistical arrangement for the visit," said the statement.

"We reiterate that Fiji stands ready to hear wise counsel and practical advice that seeks to take the country forward and address the difficulty we face.

"It must be stressed that what has taken place is now water under the bridge.

"We express the hope that the Eminent Person's Group would come to offer real assistance and a practical solution to the current difficulties in Fiji."

Forum acting secretary-general Iosefa Maiava earlier clarified that the EPG's proposal had not been rejected by the military as implied on Radio New Zealand.

"The report by Radio New Zealand, dated December 18, 2006, titled Forum EPG mission to Fiji this year rejected' is therefore misleading," he said.

"The Forum is currently consulting with Fiji's military-installed new regime, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to ascertain their willingness to speak with a Forum EPG to be convened as soon as possible in January 2007.

"Forum members wish to assist Fiji move swiftly and peacefully toward the restoration of democratic government, within the boundaries of Fiji's constitution and the rule of law.

Mr Maiava said the forum was pleased to clarify any matter to the media to ensure accurate and responsible reporting.

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