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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 22) - India has offered to assist Fiji with its financing requirements for capital projects, says Fiji's interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

A statement from the Fiji Embassy in Washington, D.C., said Chaudhry had bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart P. Chidambaram Monday in Washington where they are attending the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The officials from Fiji and India are to meet early January to conduct further talks on the matter.

The statement said Chaudhry had asked for financing support for Fiji's infrastructure upgrade program when he met with Chidambaram while on official visit to India last May.

"We have a number of infrastructure upgrade projects under active consideration. These include rehabilitating and upgrading our national highways, adding capacity to and enhancing service delivery of our water and sewerage systems, as well as investing in rural development to boost agricultural production.

"I am pleased that the government of India has agreed to consider these projects for financing," said Chaudhry.

The statement said Chaudhry also met with the assistant president of the Exim Bank of China Zhu Xinquian in Washington to hold further talks on China's offer of concessional loans to help finance development projects.

The concessional loan offer was made to Pacific Island States during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Fiji in April 2006.

Discussions with the Chinese government have been ongoing on this loan offer and a final decision is expected to be made soon when final negotiations on the terms and conditions of the loan are completed, said Chaudhry.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's Minister of Finance II, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, has also promised to assist Fiji in the country's infrastructure development program.

Fiji's Embassy in Washington, D.C. revealed in a statement that the undertaking was given when Fiji's Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, accompanied by his permanent secretary Peceli Vocea and the Governor of the Reserve Bank Savenaca Narube, met with Tan Sri Yakcop and his delegation for bilateral talks in Washington, D.C. last Friday during the 40th annual meeting of the South East Asia Constituency of the World Bank and IMF.

Chaudhry had requested a meeting to discuss economic and technical cooperation between the two countries.

The ministers also held brief discussions on trade and investment related issues. Tan Sri Yakcop assured Chaudhry that the Malaysian government would be prepared to assist Fiji with its economic recovery program.

Chaudhry briefed the Malaysian delegation on the interim government's road-map to democratic rule via a peoples' charter for change and progress to be formulated by the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF).

According to the statement, Tan Sri Yakcop welcomed the national consultation process to be undertaken by the NCBBF and said that Malaysia had itself undergone a transition following the disturbances and riots of 1969. He advised that Fiji should evolve its own solution for lasting stability and that consensus building in any such exercise was of vital importance.

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