Australia to lift sanctions on Fiji

Sydney, Oct 31 (IANS) Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced Friday that her government was lifting sanctions on Fiji that have been in place since the 2006 military coup in the country.

"As I depart for a two-day visit to Fiji, the first by any foreign minister since the (Fiji) elections in Sep, I announce the Australian government has lifted all remaining sanctions against Fiji," Xinhua quoted Bishop as saying in a statement.

Bishop will travel to Fiji Friday to meet Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

"Today marks the start of a new era in the relationship between Australia and Fiji, and a significant step toward the fulfillment of the Australian government's election commitment to normalise relations with this important Pacific neighbour," she said.

Australia is Fiji's largest trading and commercial partner in the region and is the biggest investor in Fiji.

Two-way trade is worth over $1.59 billion annually. Up to 50,000 Fijians live and work in Australia and approximately 300,000 Australians visit Fiji each year, over half the number of Fiji's total tourist numbers.

Last month, Bainimarama convincingly won Fiji's first election in nearly a decade in what international observers say was a fair poll.


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