NZ, Fiji to resume military co-op after 9 yrs

Updated: 2015-01-29 10:55


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WELLINGTON - The armed forces of New Zealand and Fiji will formally resume cooperation this weekend, after nine years since they were suspended after a coup in the Pacific island state.

New Zealand Defense Minister Gerry Brownlee said Thursday that the New Zealand government had decided to lift the remaining sanctions following Fiji's general election in September last year.

"Removing these last constraints allows the (New Zealand) Defense Force to rebuild co-operation and engagement with its Fijian counterparts," Brownlee said in a statement.

To mark the occasion, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion would carry out a maritime surveillance patrol of Fiji's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on Jan 31.

"This flight marks the first significant military contact between the two countries since bilateral defense ties were suspended in December 2006," Brownlee said.

"Such patrols assist our southwest Pacific partners to manage marine resources and deter illegal and unauthorized activities within their EEZs."

Voreqe Bainimarama, who seized power in a military coup in 2006, was elected Fiji's Prime Minister in September with about 60 percent of the vote in the proportional representation system.