Fijian Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Murray McCully during the meeting.
Fijian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met with his New Zealand counterpart, Murray McCully in Suva Thursday morning.
The meeting between the two Foreign Affairs Ministers is the first since the New Zealand Government lifted all sanctions against the Fijian Government last month. Minister Kubuabola reiterated that the Fijian Government welcomed that move as a positive step towards fully normalizing relations between the two countries.
The bilateral talks signal a new chapter in the Fiji-New Zealand relations as the two countries seek to chart the way forward with goodwill and positive cooperation.
Minister McCully expressed the New Zealand Government’s readiness to work closely with Fiji on areas of mutual cooperation and to provide assistance in areas of need. The Minister assured Minister Kubuabola that they will relook at NZ’s current development assistance programme for Fiji to enable greater cooperation between the two governments and their respective public institutions.
They agreed that establishing a joint annual forum for bilateral exchanges at Ministerial and senior officials level will facilitate the expected increase in interaction between the two governments.
In response to Minister Kubuabola’s query on education assistance, Minister McCully indicated that New Zealand is going to consider expanding its scholarship opportunities to Fiji. Other assistance, such as training of Fiji’s Foreign Service officials and study visits for Fijian civil servants are also being considered for immediate action.
On the recent decision by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to allow Fiji to participate at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Minister McCully indicated that he will utilize his current role as Deputy Chair of CMAG to seek a reversal of the exclusion of Fiji’s Rugby and Netball teams from participating at the games.
Another area where the New Zealand Government will take immediate action is in the inclusion of Fijian workers in the Seasonal Workers Program. Cooperation in the Agriculture sector was also discussed and is expected to receive a boost as New Zealand re-engages with Fiji to realize synergies, especially in the dairy industry.