New Zealand has eased sanctions and increased aid to Fiji after the Pacific island nation's military regime
adopted a new constitution last week.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says he welcomes the new constitution and Fiji's progress toward holding democratic elections. 

Fiji's leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, seized power in a 2006 coup. He has promised to hold elections next year, which he plans to contest. 

McCully said on Thursday that New Zealand had ended travel bans on sports teams and those peripherally connected to the coup. Travel bans remain in place for key regime leaders.

New Zealand has also reinstated 10 postgraduate scholarships for Fijian students, and is increasing financial aid and election assistance.

Fiji has suffered four coups since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1970.

It has traditionally had close relations with New Zealand and Australia, and both nations have a large expatriate community from the islands. Diplomatic relations between the countries were restored last year.

Source: Agencies