The Prime Minister of Fiji, Ratu sir Kamisee Mara, on Sunday (16 December) said the Fijian contingents of troops serving in southern Lebanon would maintain their political independence.
SV INTERIOR Fijian Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisee Mara enters room and sits with officials
CU Prime Minister speaking in English and answering reporters questions
MARA: "We came in as independent country. We would like to maintain that independence right through our role while we are here. And, I would like to see that the ceasefire that has just been maintained .. the wish of both sides, to maintain it so."
REPORTER: "Are you making of countries or .. what is your ...?"
MARA: ".. Plans ... I'm spending tomorrow discussing with the Lebanese government. And then, go on to see the Fijian contingents, visiting all their positions. And then, on to Israel, before I go back."
REPORTER: "You are going to Israel on Tuesday?"
MARA: "On Tuesday."
On Monday (17 December), the Fijian Prime Minister met in Beirut with President Elias Sarikis, Prime Minister Selim al-Hoss, and Defence Minister Joseph Skaf, before flying south in the afternoon.
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Background: The Prime Minister of Fiji, Ratu sir Kamisee Mara, on Sunday (16 December) said the Fijian contingents of troops serving in southern Lebanon would maintain their political independence. The Fijian battalion in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrols some of the toughest territory in the south, with its zone lying next to Palestinian camps near the ancient port of Tyre. The Prime Minister planned to spend the night of Monday (17 December) with the Fijian forces in the field. United Nations officials said they would give him special security because of his recent offer to give the exiled former shah of Iran sanctuary on Fiji. The Fijian cabinet over-ruled Sir Kamisee Mara, voiding his offer.
SYNOPSIS: The Prime Minister gave a news conference in Beirut on Sunday (16 December). He proposed to spend the next evening with his troops, whose independence he asserted.