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Australia 'wants to normalise relations'

Torika Tokalau
Friday, January 31, 2014

AUSTRALIAN Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Bishop wants to normalise relations with Fiji as the country prepares for election this year.

This was relayed by Australian Acting High Commissioner to Fiji Glen Miles during Australia Day celebrations at his residence on Wednesday night.

The celebration was the first of its kind since 2006.

"This is the first formal Australia Day celebrations since 2006 and it certainly has been a long time coming," Mr Miles said.

"Our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said she wants to normalise relations with Fiji and this is an important part of that process, having a national day celebration."

Guests included members of the diplomatic community and members of the Fiji Government as well as President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama was also invited but sent his apologies.

"This is a significant step in inviting members of the government including the Prime Minister and the President to our Australia Day function and we look forward to continuing these sorts of opportunities as they arise.

"But again we have been interacting with government officials for a long time now."

Mr Miles said a normal relationship with Fiji included a standard bilateral relationship, adding they have also been flexible in their approach on travel sanctions over the past 18 months.

"Over the last 18 months we've implemented travel sanctions on a very flexible basis and what we have seen are a number of government ministers visit Australia," he said.

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