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Talks are on

Shalveen Chand
Saturday, February 15, 2014

RELATIONS between Fiji and Australia are looking more positive with the visiting Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (pictured left) meeting with Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday afternoon.

Ms Bishop arrived at the Government Buildings about 4pm yesterday and was engaged in a meeting that lasted about an hour.

The meeting is the first to take place after the announcement by Ms Bishop that Australia was keen to work with Fiji and mend broken bridges.

She described the meeting productive.

"I just had a meeting with the Prime Minister. It was very positive, very productive. I was very delighted to bring the greetings of Prime Minister (Tony) Abbot to Prime Minister Bainimarama," she told The Fiji Times.

"And we talked about how we can normalise relationships and areas where we can engage and put the relationship on a stronger and enduring footing."

"I hope that we are heading towards a very bright future."

Following the meeting, Ms Bishop and the rest of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group paid a visit to Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

The MCG has been mandated by the forum leaders to continue to dialogue and engage with Fiji, including supporting Fiji's return to parliamentary democracy.

"We have just had a very comprehensive briefing from the Attorney-General. There are challenges as there are with any elections but there has been significant progress with the Constitution and then with the registration.

"We understand that voter registration is at record level and that is something to be very proud of.

"And we also understand that registration in Australia has commenced today, so we are very pleased about that."

Fiji's relationship with Australia, New Zealand and the forum deteriorated after 2006.

Meanwhile, the MCG which comprises - Ms Bishop, NZ Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, PNG Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato, Samoan Communications Minister Tuisugaletaua Ali'imalemanu Sofara Aveau, Tuvalu Foreign Affairs Minister Taukelina Finikaso, and Vanuatu's deputy PM Nipake Edward Natapei - will meet today to decide how they can best help Fiji in its upcoming elections.

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