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SUVA: The United States government has suspended more than $1 million in
security and other assistance to Fiji, cancelled a number of ship visits
to Suva and banned more than 130 people from entering the US because it
did not support the hostage-taking in Parliament, the Fiji Sun reports.
The US Embassy in Suva said the US government had taken these actions in
strongly condemning the overthrow of the elected People's Coalition
government on May 19.
The embassy was reacting to a media report which quoted [deposed Prime
Minister Mahendra] Chaudhry telling the Times of India that the US
Embassy had put indirect pressure on his government and was "pushy"
about the American firm Timber resource management (TRM) being awarded
the mahogany contract.
Chaudhry reportedly said the coup was triggered by his government's
decision to award the contract to British government-owned Commonwealth
Development Corporation (CDC) over TRM and the game plan was to remove
his government.
But the embassy said insinuations attributed to Chaudhry regarding the
alleged backing of the US government in the attempted May 19 coup was
"completely unfounded, untrue and unfortunate".
It said Chaudhry should know better than anyone else the straightforward
role it played in advocating on behalf of a US company's bid on Fiji's
public tender for mahogany resources.
The embassy said an important role of all nations' embassies and high
commissions was to promote their countries' commercial interests and
that it would continue to promote American businesses and commercial
interests in the future.
"In that regard we helped arrange a meeting between Mr Chaudhry and
State Department officials during a visit by Mr Chaudhry to New York,"
it said.
The embassy said it also sponsored an orientation visit to New York of
two cabinet ministers and two of Chaudhry's key advisers who met with
senior financial experts in Wall Street to discuss how the US bond
market would be involved in financial aspects of the US company's bid.
It said any notion that the US supported the demise of constitutional
democracy in Fiji was ludicrous, pernicious and completely false.
+++niuswire

Title -- 2928 FIJI: US clarifies stand over Fiji crisis
Date -- 26 August 2000
Byline -- Jillian Hicks
Origin -- Pasifik Nius
Source -- Fiji Sun, 26/8/00
Copyright -- FS
Status -- Unabridged
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