TIT FOR TAT SENDS FIJI, NEW ZEALAND DIPLOMATS PACKING

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High Commissioners withdrawn from both countries

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 23, 2008) – New Zealand has retaliated to Fiji expelling its acting High Commissioner by moving to send the Fiji High Commissioner in Wellington home.

Fiji’s interim High Commissioner in Wellington, Cama Tuiloma, is to be ordered to leave as soon as possible.

The expulsion came just over an hour after news from Suva that Caroline McDonald was told she had been declared persona non grata in Fiji.

The action against Ms McDonald followed indication this week from the interim government that it wanted to improve its relationship with New Zealand.

Fiji’s interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama threatened last week to expel Ms McDonald if a student visa was not granted to the son of a senior official in the president’s office.

However he was told last Tuesday it would not be granted.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, says he’s disappointed but not surprised at the expulsion of the acting High Commissioner to Fiji.

He says there were no reasons given for the expulsion of Caroline McDonald.

"None that would stack up to any scrutiny. It’s a simple matter of a deliberate and direct threat being made that this would be the consequence of New Zealand not acceding to an ultimatum. New Zealand could not accede to that ultimatum. We gave the Commodore room to think better of that course of action but he decided not to take that room."

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