FIJI COMMITS A FURTHER 380 TROOPS TO GOLAN HEIGHTS

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has announced that a further 380 Fijian troops are being sent to join the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Golan Heights.

The contingent will leave Fiji at the end of the month to link up with the 183 Fijians who have already been deployed in the troubled zone that separates Israel and Syria.

The Prime Minister made the announcement at an official dinner in Honiara at the end of the first day of his current visit to Solomon Islands.

He also revealed that Russia – a key player in the Middle East  – has offered to assist Fiji with the UN deployment.

He said that during his recent visit to Moscow, both the Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev and his Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, had endorsed Fiji’s participation and offered Russia’s help.

The Prime Minister said Fiji was also grateful for the support of its South Pacific neighbours for the deployment and especially its partners in the Melanesian Spearhead group.

He said his two-year tenure as Chair of the MSG – which concluded last month – had been an exciting time and the organisation had been able to achieve a great deal.

The dinner in Honiara was attended by more than 100 people, including the Governor-General and Prime Minister of the Solomons, Government ministers from both countries, diplomats and members of the Solomons and Fijian business communities.

The Prime Minister thanked Solomon Islands for honouring Fiji by inviting him to be Chief Guest at the celebrations tomorrow to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Solomons Independence.

The PM singled out several people in the audience for special mention, including three Fijian veterans of the Solomons campaign in World War Two -Sergeant Major Eliki Vuniwawa, Lance Corporal Ilimotama Wave and Commando Watisoni Seru.

He also highlighted the presence in the Fijian delegation of two senior Government officials, Pio Tikoduadua and Inia Seruiratu, who had both commanded Fijian peacekeepers under RAMSI – the Regional Assistance Mission To Solomon Islands.