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Demands Fiji High Commission in Canberra be recognized

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, August 3, 2009) – Australia has been told to recognise the status of the Fiji High Commission in Canberra or face the consequences.

The following threat was made by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama after the Australian government has refused to recognise the High Commission in Canberra.

Prime Minister Cmdr Voreqe Bainimarama said he has asked the Australian High Commissioner James Batley to upgrade the position of Fiji’s High Commission to Australia or face necessary the consequences.

Cmdr Bainimarama asked Mr. Batley to inform the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Steven Smith to upgrade the position of Fiji’s High Commission to Australia or face the downgrading of its High Commission here in Fiji.

Cmdr Bainimarama said the Australian High Commission will be downgraded if Batley does not act on their warnings.

"Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd should immediately upgrade the position of Fiji’s High Commission or the Australian High Commission here in Suva will be downgraded," said Mr Bainimarama.

However, when contacted yesterday Batley said Cmdr Bainimarama or the government had not informed the Commission about their decision.

"I met with the Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary last week and he did not even raise the issue," said Batley.

"Mr Bainimarama should follow the right channel and ask the Foreign Affairs Ministry to look in this matter.

Batley said he will be meeting the new Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola once he is sworn in and act on the position.

He further stressed that the Australian High Commissioner relies on the Foreign Affairs Ministry for any decisions or any information, but not from the Prime Minister.

"If Mr Kubuabola is willing to discuss the issue with me, then that won’t be a problem at all," he added.

"We will only communicate with the Foreign Affairs Ministry and inform the Australian Government whatever changes that needs or should take place.

The Australian Government agreed to the appointment of an acting High Commissioner in Canberra and a Consul-General in Sydney in June last year.

Kamlesh Kumar Arya was than appointed as acting High Commissioner from 6 August 2008 and he remains acting until date.


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