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Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says Papua New Guinea will work with Fiji to determine the future of the remains of 35 Fijian soldiers killed in PNG during World War II.
O’Neill said this at the closing dinner of his official visit to Fiji in Suva on Monday night.
“One issue I wish to highlight this evening, and that is the remains of 30 Fijian soldiers who lost their lives in our country during World War II,” he told guests.
“These include your Victoria Cross recipient, Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu.
“These brave men lay in our soil and we will honour and respect them, and work with Fiji to determine next steps for their care.”
Fiji’s Minister for Defence and National Security, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, laid a wreath at Bitapaka War Cemetery in Rabaul two months ago when he visited to honour the 35 who were laid to rest there.
Ratu Inoke was in PNG attending the Melanesian Spearhead Group Police Ministers meeting at Kokopo.
One of the 35 soldiers is Corporal Sukanaivalu, who was born January 1, 1918, and joined the Fiji Infantry Regiment during World War II.
By mid-1944 he was a Corporal in the 3rd Battalion, which was taking part in the Bougainville campaign. He died saving others under Japanese fire on June 23, 1944.
The newspaper reported that Ratu Inoke also visited Tung Na Parau where four Fijian missionaries were martyred.
It reported that Fiji is closely associated with the township of Rabaul given its historical relations dated back to the late 1800s when Fijian missionaries first visited Kokopo.
The Prime Minister told his host that the welcome reception extended to him and his delegation since Sunday was heartfelt and very much appreciated.
“The friendship between our two countries has been on display these past two days.
“We have so much in common between our countries – we must continue to build on this.”
O’Neill said it was an honour to address Fiji’s Parliament and to meet with the Members.
He also had the opportunity to meet with the Fiji-PNG Business Council on Monday.
“We are deepening investment between our countries, and this is building businesses and creating jobs,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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