Australia's defense advisor told to leave Fiji

WELLINGTON, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Australia has been dragged into Fiji's latest diplomatic impasse, after the Fiji interim government rejected a pending visa request for a regional military attache.

The attache was to have been based at the Australian High Commission in Suva and has been waiting for visa approval for several weeks, Fiji Daily Post online reported on Thursday.

The interim government informed the Australian government of the decision to reject their request on the day it expelled acting NZ High Commissioner to Fiji Caroline McDonald on Tuesday.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith branded the decision "unhelpful and destructive" in a joint statement with Australian Minister for Defence Joel Fitzgibbon.

Fiji Department of Information deputy secretary Neumi Leweni said the request was refused, saying the Australian government breached protocol.

Leweni said the procedure for such request was that the sending state (Australia) had to receive endorsement of the receiving state (Fiji).

This person got himself a 14-day visa and arrived in the country on tourist visa and this is breaching protocol."

He suggested that the Australian government recall its defence advisor and reapply by way of a diplomatic note to the Foreign Ministry for its request to be re-considered.


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