AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND FIRM ON SANCTIONS

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 24) – Australia has warned Fiji that any threat to introduce trade and travel restrictions by its interim Government will have adverse effects on its people.

A spokesman for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs says any retaliation will only harm Fijians as it won’t have any impact on Australia or New Zealand.

The Department says Fiji’s threat to introduce certain restrictions against Australia will not have the desired effect.

Fiji’s interim Prime Minister and military commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainiamarama, responded by saying he would retaliate against exports and expatriates from both countries if travel bans on members of the military, interim and its executives stay in place.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark also voiced similar sentiments saying its sanctions will stay.

She says her country’s position is the same as those of Canada, the US, the European Union and Australia.

New Zealand has also said that a move by Fiji to ask for assistance from Asian countries would not go well.

Clark reacting to Commodore Bainimarama’s claim that Fiji would move to Asian countries if the metropolitan neighbours continue to impose sanctions.

Clark told National Radio that whilst holding talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in the Philippines just over a week ago reassurance was given that China supported New Zealand's actions in the Pacific.

"China indicated through him they were very concerned about instability in the South Pacific and specifically indicated considerable support for what New Zealand was doing in the region.

"The New Zealand Government position is very clear - that is we are waiting to see from those who have seized power in Fiji what their proposals are for a pathway back to constitutional government, and that of course would include some very clear signals that political freedom and freedom of speech and media are to return to Fiji.

"We haven't seen these signals yet," Clark said.

Clark reportedly said New Zealand stood its ground after the 2000 coup by keeping sanctions in place until the Commonwealth removed Fiji’s suspension which came about 18 months later.

Commodore Bainimarama yesterday announced that a high powered delegation comprising of ministers, senior officials and selected business people will visit China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia in an effort to diversify Fiji’s network of sources for import, tourist, investment, technical cooperation and inflow of aid.

He accused Australia and New Zealand of bullying Fiji and threatened retaliation after chief of staff Parmesh Chand was denied entry to New Zealand to visit his family.

Whilst extending a hand in diplomacy, Commodore Bainimarama warned both nations that "if diplomacy does not work, then my government will be left with no option but to adopt retaliatory measures."

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