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State department says action undermines dialogue

By John Shovelan

WASHINGTON (Radio Australia, Nov. 4, 2009) –The United States government has condemned Fiji's expulsion of the Australian high commissioner and the New Zealand acting head of mission.

The US State Department says it is unjust.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly began the daily briefing to journalists with a statement condemning the expulsion.

"The United States deplores the decision by Fiji's de facto government to expel New Zealand's acting head of mission, as well as Australia's high commissioner."

Mr Kelly says the act was unprecedented, because Australia holds the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The statement said of Fiji: "These actions have undermined any opportunity for progress towards re-engagement and constructive dialogue with its neighbours."

Australia and New Zealand have expelled Fiji's top diplomats in response.

In Australia, opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop says the government should urge the United Nations to stop using Fijian troops in peacekeeping operations.

That is the major source of funding for the military regime.

About 280 Fijian troops and police are involved in peacekeeping efforts.

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