Foreign ministers and high commissioners from Canada, Britain, Lesotho, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, St Lucia, Malta, Malaysia and Sri Lanka held talks with Don McKinnon, the secretary-general.


"It would be our endeavour to obviously engage with the regime as soon as we can in order to do what we can to bring the country back to democracy," McKinnon said.


"Whether that can happen this side of Christmas or immediately after Christmas, I think the next 24 or 48 hours may tell us.

"This is an outrage what is happening in Fiji today"

Helen Clark, New Zealand PM

"We're pretty confident that many people see this as a very unpopular coup.


"We want to encourage them back to democracy and especially support those people in Fiji who want to get back to democracy.


"It is all about us remaining engaged," he said.


New Zealan ban


Helen Clark, the New Zealand prime minister, said that defence ties with Fiji were being suspended and Fijian officers and their families would be banned. 


"This is an outrage what is happening in Fiji today," Clark told reporters in Wellington, New Zealand's capital.


Britain suspended its military assistance to Fiji, although it has no troops in the country. A number of Fijian cadets train each year at Britain's Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.


This is the third time Fiji has been suspended from the Commonwealth.