Fiji military chief visits New Zealand

Wellington, Aug 24 (IANS) The Fijian military head arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday to continue the rebuilding of links between the armed forces of the two countries.

Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto would be holding talks with New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and Ministry of Defence officials during his four-day visit, said NZDF Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

“There has been a good momentum in the defence relationship, this visit builds on that,” Keating said in a statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I am pleased to be hosting Rear Admiral Naupoto. This is the first visit to New Zealand by a Commander of the RFMF since many years.”

The defence cooperation was formally resumed between the two military forces in late 2014, following a normalizing of relations

Keating visited Fiji at the end of June for talks with Naupoto on defence and security cooperation.

The NZDF was heavily involved in the response to the Tropical Cyclone Winston in February, sending its biggest peacetime deployment to the Pacific, involving ships, aircrafts and more than 500 personnel.

The cyclone killed at least 42 people, and damaged or destroyed thousands of homes and other buildings.

Also in June, John Key became the first New Zealand Prime Minister to visit Fiji in 10-years, and held talks with his counterpart – Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama

Other Pacific nations imposed sanctions on Fiji after Bainimarama seized power in a military coup in 2006.

Relations were normalised after elections in September 2014, when Bainimarama was elected Fiji’s Prime Minister with about 60 per cent of the vote.

–IANS

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