The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

FA122 28 September 2005

Australian and Fijian Foreign Ministers to Meet

I will hold talks with my Fijian counterpart, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Kaliopate Tavola, on 29 September in Nadi, Fiji.

Mr Tavola and I will also meet in Nadi with business representatives from the Fiji-Australia Business Council and its Australian counterpart, the Australia-Fiji Business Council.

While in Suva on 30 September, I will hold discussions with Prime Minister Qarase, Opposition Leader Chaudhry and the Commander of the Fiji Military, Commodore Bainimarama.

The annual Foreign Ministers' Talks reflect the ongoing strength and importance of Australia's relationship with Fiji and provide an opportunity for detailed discussions on bilateral, regional and global issues of concern to both countries. With the Pacific Islands Forum to be held in Port Moresby in late October, my talks with Mr Tavola are particularly timely.

Fiji continues to play a constructive role in progressing the regional reform agenda and key areas for discussion include the Pacific Plan, Pacific transport issues and regional security.

As part of the bilateral agenda, I expect to discuss further follow-up to Prime Minister Howard's announcement at the Pacific Islands Forum in 2004 of a seven-year extension of the SPARTECA- TCF Scheme to assist the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry in Fiji, as well as examining broader issues affecting the competitiveness of Fiji's TCF industry.

Fiji's police and military have made a strong contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), working side-by-side with Australians and other Pacific colleagues to ensure security in that country. Australia and Fiji are also working closely on policing and transnational crime issues.

I welcome Fiji's continued support for the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq. UN engagement is important for the success of the October referendum and the December elections.

Media inquiries : Ministerial 02 6277 7500 , DFAT Media Liaison 02 6261 1555


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