Venkat Raman in Suva –
After ten years of strained friendship and frosty diplomatic relations New Zealand and Fiji have agreed to work together to build bridges of understanding between the two governments and peoples, setting new goals of partnership and progress.
That was the gist of the visit of Prime Minister John Key to Fiji, the first for a New Zealand Prime Minister since 2006, prior to the military coup on December 5, 2006 that brought him to power.
Mr Bainimarama extended his hand of friendship saying, “Let bygones be bygones,’ but not before letting Mr Key have an earful of his anger, frustration and even threat over the ‘way New Zealand acted at a time when Fiji wanted the best understanding of its neighbours.’
At a no-nonsense, no-holds-barred speech that he delivered at the State Banquet that he hosted in honour of Mr Key at Grand Pacific Hotel on June 9, he reminded Mr Key of his own earlier comment that ‘what has happened in the past is ancient history.’
“Fiji seeks a new political relationship with New Zealand that is more equal, more rooted in mutual respect, more understanding on New Zealand part of our own priorities – whether it is on the trade front with the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus negotiations or our desire to reform our regional architecture to give Pacific Islanders a bigger voice,” he said.
Mr Key is confident of moving forward but he is bound to face opposition in New Zealand among his political adversaries.
Please read our four-page Special Report on Pages 6 to 9 and our Editorial on Page 12.
Pictures by Sanjesh Narayan for Indian Newslink and Radio Tarana.
Fijian President Jioji (George) Konousi Konrote with John Key
Guard of Honour at Nausori Airport
Frank Bainimarama receiving John Key on arrival
Education Minister Mahendra Reddy with John Key at Naiyala School