Travel ban dropped for Fiji Foreign Minister

By Audrey Young

New Zealand dropped its travel sanctions against the military-led Fiji Government to allow a minister to attend a meeting on his country.

Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola is in Auckland ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum in Vanuatu in August.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith is also in Auckland for the meeting, which will be chaired by Tongan Prime Minister Feleti Sevele and hosted by Foreign Minister Murray McCully. Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Sam Abal will attend, as well as a Samoan Government and Tuvalu representative.

The ministers form the ministerial contact group of the Pacific Islands Forum and will be finalising their report on Fiji's progress towards democracy.

The waiver is the first time the National Government has lifted its ban on Fiji Government figures.

The Labour-led Government lifted the ban for a former Fiji Foreign Minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, to attend similar talks in 2008 hosted by its Foreign Minister, Winston Peters.

Mr McCully met Mr Kubuabola at the United Nations in New York last September and then again in Canberra in February.

- NZ Herald

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