The US on Thursday condemned the expulsion of Australian and New Zealand diplomats from Fiji.

“The United States deplores the decision by Fiji’s de facto government to expel New Zealand’s acting head of mission, as well as Australia’s high commissioner,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

“This latter act is unprecedented in that Australia now holds the chairmanship of the Pacific Islands Forum. These actions have undermined any opportunity for progress toward re-engagement and constructive dialogue with its neighbours,” Kelly said.

Australian and New Zealand envoys were expelled on Tuesday over travel sanctions against Fiji’s judiciary.

The spokesman said the US calls for the restoration of Fiji’s independent judiciary and the rights to free speech and assembly that are essential to the country’s return to democracy.

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