LONDON, July 13 -- The United Kindom Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued the following press release:
Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne has spoken about the expulsion of the Australian High Commissioner to Fiji.
On hearing of the expulsion, Mr Browne said:
"I am extremely disappointed that the Australian Acting High Commissioner has been expelled by the regime in Fiji. The UK Government believes this action will increase further Fiji's isolation from the international community. The expulsion will hamper the dialogue that the international community has been calling for in order to assist Fiji in its return to democracy. The UK welcomes Australia's measured response to this unfortunate situation
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding Fiji’s expulsion of Australia’s Acting High Commissioner on July 14:
“Canada is disappointed by the decision of the Interim Government of Fiji to expel the Acting High Commissioner of Australia, Sarah Roberts. This decision is unjustified and will only further isolate Fiji from the international community and from its regional partners.
“Canada is a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We call once again on the Interim Government of Fiji to re-establish the democratic rights of the people of Fiji by taking immediate steps to restore the constitution, reinstate the judiciary and hold early elections.”
THE United States has condemned Fiji's expulsion of Australia's top diplomat as "deplorable", saying the timing, shortly before the next Pacific Islands Forum meeting, had undermined an opportunity to re-engage with its neighbours.
"Fiji's pattern of expelling diplomats runs contrary to accepted diplomatic practice. This act is unwarranted and harmful to potential dialogue in the Pacific region regarding Fiji's eventual return to democracy," a US State Department spokesman said yesterday.
But as the United States joined the diplomatic pressure on Fiji's interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, to hold free elections, the military leader sought to again bypass meaningful regional dialogue.
A decision by Vanuatu to cancel a meeting of Melanesian leaders in Fiji, designed to rival the Pacific Islands Forum, but exclude Australia and New Zealand, had triggered the expulsion of Australian diplomat Sarah Roberts on Wednesday. Fiji had blamed Australian lobbying.
The Fiji interim government announced yesterday that a new meeting, called Engaging Fiji, would be held in the same place on the same day. Fiji Radio reported eight countries would attend the meeting, but the Fiji government would not identify which ones. Solomon Islands Prime Minister Derek Sikua was the only leader to publicly confirm he would attend and said the Solomon Islands had an "open-door policy to Fiji".
An Australian foreign affairs department spokesman said attendance at the Engaging Fiji meeting was a matter for individual countries to decide, but added that Australia looked to all Pacific Islands Forum leaders to support the forum's position on Fiji.
"These meetings are unrelated to the Pacific Islands Forum, which is the pre-eminent body in the region," the spokesman said. The US State Department spokesman said the US government had supported the decision by the Melanesia Spearhead Group to defer its summit.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said Commodore Bainimarama would need to answer to the people of Fiji if he did not honour election commitments.