CAPTION: Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during talks with Russian Foreign Minister Mr  Sergey Lavrov at his residence.

The Russian Federation has praised Fiji for its growing presence on the world stage and says it will stand by Fiji as it continues its reform process leading up to the 2014 elections.

The undertaking was given by Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, to the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, during formal talks in Moscow, which also produced an agreement to set up a Russian cultural centre in Fiji for the entire South Pacific.

Mr Lavrov singled out Fiji’s contribution to United Nations peacekeeping efforts and the recent deployment of 182 Fijian troops in the Golan Heights as an example of Fiji’s continuing commitment to engage with the international community.

He praised Fiji’s leadership at the UN, saying that it has placed not only Fijian interests on the global agenda but the interests of the entire South Pacific region.

The Russian Foreign Minister reiterated comments made earlier to Prime Minister Bainimarama by his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, that Fiji should be allowed to determine its future without being dictated to from outside.

After Prime Minister Bainimarama briefed him on the constitutional and electoral reform process in Fiji, Mr Lavrov said Russia looked forward to Fiji finding its own style of democracy for the benefit of its people and their future and could count on Russian support as it carried out that process. Russia, he said, believed in respecting each country irrespective of size and wealth.

The Foreign Minister said Russia and Fiji both looked forward to celebrating the 40th anniversary next year of the establishment of their diplomatic relationship. He invited Commodore Bainimarama to make a return visit to Russia to commemorate the anniversary.



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