Fiji Attempting To Reestablish Connections With Al-Nusra

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Group holding peacekeepers hostage pulls out of UN negotiations

By Siteri Sauvakacolo

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 8, 2014) – State officials are trying to re-establish communication with the al-Nusra Front to resume negotiations for the release of 45 Fijian soldiers held captive in the Golan Heights.

After the al-Nusra Front pulled out of negotiations with the UN on Friday, military commander Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga said they would seek assistance from Middle East countries it had established diplomatic ties with to secure the release of the soldiers.

The rebels want their three main demands — removal of the organisation's name from the terrorist list, humanitarian aid and compensation for casualties they suffered on the day of the hostage-taking — met in exchange for the Fijian soldiers, who have been moved from their position by the rebels to an undisclosed location.

Brig-Gen Tikoitoga said Fiji's inclusion in the non-aligned movement was in Fiji's favour.

"Fiji is now a member of the nonaligned movement which does align itself to some Arab countries. And there is also our embassy being set up in the United Arab Emirates which ambassador Nair is looking after," Brig- Gen Tikoitoga said.

"Those other ambassadors have continuously worked hard in the last couple of days, travelling from country to country seeking their support and seeking whatever pressure they can put to bear on the situation in Syria. From the Syrian Government and also those that maybe able to influence some of the rebel groups working within Syria.

"I assure you all the efforts of government and the Foreign Affairs Ministry have been brought to bear on anyone that we think can put pressure on the situation, whatever small the influence maybe, there will eventually be results."

The RFMF is expected to provide another update on the situation today.

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