Fiji opens North Korean office

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 12:10 31/08/2012
Fiji's Commodore Esala Teleni (left) presents his credentials in Pyongyang to the chairman of the assembly, Kim Yong-nam.
North Korean Government

FRONTING UP: Fiji's Commodore Esala Teleni (left) presents his credentials in Pyongyang to the chairman of the assembly, Kim Yong-nam.

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Fiji's military regime has opened a diplomatic office in the world's most closed state – North Korea.

As it is the first Pacific nation to open an office in the Stalinist state it is likely to have strategic implications for a region already witnessing Chinese economic and political expansion.

The new ties will cause concern in Canberra and Wellington, but there is no indication of whether North Korea will open an office in Suva.

In a statement, the Fiji regime says Commodore Esala Teleni has presented his credentials in Pyongyang to the chairman of the assembly, Kim Yong-nam.

Kim holds a figurehead post; the country is ruled by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

Teleni was head of the Fiji Navy division in 2006 when his Fiji Military chief Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama overthrew a democratic government.

Teleni was later appointed police commissioner and while he is seen as a close ally of Bainimarama, he reputedly has ambitions to take over the military regime.

Sending him to Pyongyang may well keep him out the Suva circuit but it is unclear whether Fiji is actually going to staff its new embassy in Pyongyang City.

In a joint statement, North Korea said it was promoting relations of economic, social and political co-operation with different countries under the ideals of independence, peace and friendship.

Kim said he had closely followed developments in Fiji.

"Mr Kim stressed that joint co-operation through increased high-level visits, dialogue and exchanges was inevitable for generating opportunities and strengthening bilateral relations between Fiji and (North Korea)," the statement said.

Teleni extended his gratitude to North Korea "for accepting Fiji as a sovereign state".

The statement said Teleni also briefed Kim on "Fiji's commitment to its Look North Policy, Fiji's membership of Non-Aligned Movement, (Fiji's) Government's Roadmap to Democracy and to the upcoming general election in 2014".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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