BY LOSALINI RASOQOSOQO
Fiji is ready to send more troops for peace- keeping duties in the Golan Heights, the Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, said yesterday.
171 troops will leave on a chartered United Nations flight tomorrow and more will follow to make up the 540 troops Fiji has offered for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
Commodore Bainimarama, who is also the Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces said Fiji would not shirk from its international responsibilities.
“We understand that Philippines is also on the verge of backing out and I am sure Fiji will be called in as replacement,” he said.
Recalling a meeting of international meeting of military chiefs of defence in early 2000 that was chaired by the United States of America, Commodore Bainimarama said Fiji had first offered its services for peacekeeping duties to Iraq when no other countries did.
“Fiji started UN peacekeeping in 1978 but our soldiers have worked before that in Bougainville, Solomon Islands and Sudan. Fiji has never backed out when we are called in for duties,” he said.
“They (UN) are aware of our capabilities and of we stand ready to assist when the need arises.”
Commodore Bainimarama spoke in the ITaukei language at the farewell church services held at the Queen Elizabeth Barrack yesterday.
He also reminded soldiers to settle all matters so that their trip was not jeopardized. This was in comparison to a national rugby sevens rep to the Rugby World Cup in Moscow, Russia who was stopped at the airport due to his failure to settle some personal matters.
He said they were leaving as a team and they should all return as one..