Fiji, New Zealand leaders talk over diplomatic crisis

December 16th, 2008 - 1:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, Dec 16 (Xinhua) New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully Tuesday spoke to Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama on the phone over a diplomatic crisis arising out of Wellington’s visa policy and travel ban on Fijians to New Zealand.There were widespread speculation that the Fiji government was preparing to expel New Zealand’s acting high commissioner in Suva Caroline McDonald over the issues.

McCully declined to disclose the content of the discussions, but the government has said it would not relax the restrictions, Radio New Zealand International reported.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said no agreement was reached during the talks, though there will be further dialogue between the two governments.

In Suva, the Fiji Prime Minister’s Office said it will issue a statement on the matter at an appropriate time, the Fijilive online reported.

Fiji said that through its travel bans, the New Zealand government was unfairly punishing innocent citizens who are not involved in any way in the country’s political affairs.

The bans were imposed as so-called smart sanctions in response to the 2006 military coup — a move similar to Wellington’s decision in 2000 to refuse entry to those linked with Fiji’s previous coup staged by George Speight.

In a related development, a New Zealand Television journalist was sent home from Fiji Tuesday amid a row over New Zealand government’s refusal to grant a visa to the son of a senior Fijian official.

New Zealand Television One News reported that its Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver had been taken into custody at Nadi airport Monday night, as she went through immigration shortly after her arrival.

Fiji Times editor Netani Rika said he understood Dreaver was now on a plane home from Fiji.

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