SUVA, Fiji -- A rebel leader who is holding an ethnic Indian prime minister and 30 others hostage in parliament said Monday he would accept the appointment of ethnic Indians to the country's next government, signaling progress to the crisis.
Heading into a new round of talks with military rulers about the makeup of an interim administration, George Speight said it was possible that ethnic Indians could be included in the appointments made by a new president.
''If that is the case, we will accept it,'' said Speight, who claims to be fighting for the rights of Fiji's indigenous majority.
A second straight day of meetings between the two sides ended Monday without result. Military spokesman Lt. Col. Filipo Tarakinikini said progress had been made, and that more talks were scheduled for Tuesday.
Speight and an armed gang are holding deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry -- Fiji's first ethnic Indian leader -- and other members of his government. Speight seeks a new government that denies political power to the ethnic Indian minority.
Resentment is high among Fijians against the large Indian minority, which dominates business.
Sugar, the nation's cash crop, is at the core of Fiji's troubles. Indian farmers built the industry by operating plantations on land communally owned by indigenous Fijians and leased at low rates set by English colonial law.
Those leases are due to be renewed, and the government's refusal to accept demands for higher rent enraged many Fijians.
The military took control of Fiji and imposed martial law 10 days after Speight's gang raided parliament on May 19.
Military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama has announced a plan to restore civilian rule.
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