QARASE MEETS WITH UN, COMMONWEALTH OFFICIALS

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‘We’re pinning our hopes on political dialogue’

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, February 9, 2009) – Fiji’s ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and senior members of his party met with the visiting UN and Commonwealth Technical Team this afternoon and discussed the impending Presidents Political Dialogue Forum.

The forum, to include all registered Fiji political parties and the interim Government, is expected to set the road to Fiji’s return to democratic rule following the 2006 coup.

Qarase told Fijilive they discussed issues related to the political dialogue forum, the progress made so far, and what is likely to take place in the future.

"So it was a useful meeting and it is another step forward in the process," he said.

"Well, we are pinning a lot of hopes on the political dialogue forum, you will recall the SDL party made this suggestion a long time ago because we believe in it and we still believe that it is the right forum where serious issues affecting our country should be discussed."

He said through this dialogue they can also find consensus on the way forward for Fiji.

"...And because of that we still look forward with optimism that the government will proceed with the political dialogue forum as soon as possible," he said.

Representatives of the joint technical team said they have no comments on the meeting.

Members of the team include Mari Yamashita and Alex Grzybowski of the United Nations and Juliet Solomon and Sabhita Raju of the Commonwealth.

The team later met with executives of the National Federation Party.

The team in consultation with the interim Government and key stakeholders, will develop the modalities for the United Nations and the Commonwealth to jointly mediate an inclusive, independent and time-bound political dialogue process.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

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