January 26, 2011

Signals of interest from USA and Australia

Excerpt of transcript from US State Department Press Briefing for 24 January 2011:
Assistant Secretary for Eastern Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell is in Hawaii today leading an interagency delegation, a series of meetings on Pacific Island issues, including an annual bilateral coordination meeting with the Asian Development Bank and a trilateral security dialogue with Australia and Japan. He will also hold trilateral consultations with Australia and New Zealand. The purpose of these meetings is to confirm our shared commitment to work together with Pacific Island countries to enhance security and prosperity in the region. They will also pledge their support for steps that will hasten the restoration of democratic institutions and the rule of law in Fiji. Assistant Secretary Campbell will also participate in a State of the Pacific Dialogue hosted by the East-West Center to discuss key issues related to the Pacific Islands.

QUESTION: And I suppose in January he decided Hawaii was a better venue than, say, Beltsville or something like that? (Laughter.) Is he going anywhere – is he going across – is he crossing the Pacific?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a very good question. I don’t think so, but I will – if he has any further on travel, we’ll let you know at that point.

QUESTION: Do you know who exactly he’s meeting with from these other countries – his counterparts?

MR. CROWLEY: His counterparts.

QUESTION: And there were three, again? They were New Zealand, Australia, and Japan?

MR. CROWLEY: New Zealand, Australia, and Japan in different combinations. But I do think there are representatives coming in from a broad range of countries, including island countries in the region –

QUESTION: All right.

Australia Day Message to Fiji from Acting Australina High Commissioner:
Aust ready to assist Fiji
Publish date/time: 26/01/2011 [17:01]

The Acting Australian High Commissioner to Fiji has extended Australia's offer to Fiji again that they are ready to assist Fiji make a transition to democracy through a free and fair election at the earliest opportunity.

In her statement for Australia Day celebrations today, Judith Robinson said Australia remains committed to supporting the welfare of the people of Fiji by maintaining programmes to support the delivery of essential services, helping vulnerable groups and improving economic opportunity for rural communities.

Robinson said Australia's total financial assistance to development projects in Fiji, either directly or through regional programmes, in the year to June 2011 is estimated at 67.6 million dollars.

She said Australians consumed goods and services from Fiji to the tune of 2.09 billion dollars in 2009 to 2010 while Fiji imported 888 million dollars worth of goods and services from Australia.

It has also been revealed that just over 1,300 Fiji citizens were granted permanent residency visas to live and work in Australia in 2009 to 2010. More than 60 thousand Fiji born citizens now live permanently in Australia.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

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