Fiji Rejects Diplomatic Appointment Of PNG’s High Commissioner

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Eafeare recalled after Fiji rejects him as ‘dean of Diplomatic Corp’

By Alexander Rheeney

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 9, 2013) – The Fiji interim government has refused to recognise the appointment of Papua New Guinea’s High Commissioner as the dean of the Diplomatic Corps.

PNG High Commissioner to Fiji Peter Eafeare was recently appointed the dean of the diplomatic community in Fiji.

However, the refusal by the interim government to vet the appointment has led to Port Moresby recalling the diplomat for "consultations".

The actions of the interim government has caught the PNG government by surprise, even Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who told the Post-Courier on Friday that he was not sure of the reasons behind the position taken by Fiji.

"He has been told that they (Fiji) don’t accept him as the head of missions in Fiji so I don’t know what the reasons are, whether there are any things to be concerned (about) but we will look through the matter and of course we want very bilateral relationships with people," he said.

The PM said the PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato would release an official statement soon on the diplomatic spat.

The O’Neill Government has since its election into office last year promoted PNG-Fiji bilateral relations and gave a K50 million grant to the Frank Bainimarama-led interim government to prepare for the 2014 general election.

Trade between the two Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) heavyweights has also increased with the online news portal Fiji live reporting a 67 per cent jump in Fiji’s trade with PNG in the last five years.

But Mr O’Neill is confident the matter will not affect bilateral and trade relations and said Mr Pato’s statement should give a full picture on the reasons behind Fiji’s refusal to "recognise" Mr Eafeare.

"There wasn’t any specific reason given to us, it was just that they were not going to recognise him and work with him as the dean of the diplomatic corps," he added.

Mr Eafeare returned to Port Moresby recently and refused to comment when contacted by this newspaper, saying Mr Pato or the acting Foreign Affairs Secretary William Dihm were the appropriate people to speak to on the issue.

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