Fiji to develop relations with Arab countries

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Fiji will develop and pursue relations with Arab countries, something previous governments have failed to do despite a presence in the Middle East for over 30 years.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama revealed this in his statement to the Arab League – Pacific Island Summit in Abu Dhabi on 24th June.

Bainimarama says Fiji has been present in the Arab region since 1978.

Fijian peacekeeping troops served in the South of Lebanon from 1978 to 2002 while 300 Fijian troops currently serve with the UN in Sinai, a mission they have served in since 1982.

Fiji troops are also the only UN blue helmets in Iraq since 2004 with a 221 strong contingent, as well as a presence in Sudan and previously Kuwait and Kurdistan.

Bainimarama says some of his troops even speak fluent Arabic.

Despite this presence, he says Fiji did not develop nor pursue formal political, economic and cultural relations with the Arab countries.

Bainimarama says this will now change.

He says Fiji has now taken steps to join the Non-Aligned Movement and does not want to fall into predetermined political spheres of influence or have predetermined alignments.