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   Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

UN defends use of Fiji army

 garrison guard tamimi compound

September 7th 2011, Suva: The United Nations secretary General Ban Ki – Moon has defended the use of Republic of Fiji Military Forces personnel for peace keeping missions abroad.

Ban Ki – Moon recently made a statement in New Zealand during the opening ceremony of the Pacific Islands Forum saying that there are no other options.

"We have deployed 55 Fijian soldiers in our mission in Iraq," he said.

His comments follow Australia and New Zealand's continuous lobby to seek the UN's support in depriving it of lucrative peace keeping work.

But Ban Ki- Moon said the UN used Fiji's soldiers because there was no choice.

He defended the practice, saying the UN checked the records of all those peacekeepers it employed.

He acknowledged the concerns raised by Australia and New Zealand - "but at the time of this deployment we did not have any other alternatives when Americans were patrolling and the UN mission needed to have protection. Very serious security concerns are still there".

RFMF spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni said the ability and good record of Fijian soldiers was well – known around the world.

"Fijian soldiers are renowned when it comes to peacekeeping," he said.

"The RFMF does not want to comment on the cheap tactics of Australia and New Zealand who continue to try and push their way so they could get the peace keeping work.

"We would not want to comment on the lobbying of Australia and NZ, they have been doing that for some time now for their gain," he said.

(Photo caption: Fijian UN Ambassador Peter Thomson with RFMF Contingent in Iraq)