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Thursday, May 1, 1997

Cook Islands Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry reports a $500,000 (NZ) government commitment, "to assure excellence," when his country hosts the annual South Pacific Forum in Rarotonga next September.

The Opening Ceremony, in which the leaders of the Forum's 16 member nations are expected to participate, has been scheduled for September 17.

Sir Geoffrey says almost all of the half-million dollars to be expended will stay in the local Cook Islands economy, paying for such things as extra security, drivers, and liaison officers, and other services for the delegates.

The large media contingent which normally accompanies the leaders, diplomats, and their staffs, he points out, also will help assure booming hotel, restaurant, and entertainment business activities throughout Rarotonga during the Forum.

Meantime, the Australian aid agency, AUSAID, has committed funds for such things as computers, photocopiers, and sound systems. The equipment will remain available for Cook Islands government use after the Forum concludes.

Prime Minster Henry says New Zealand also will provide assistance for the September Forum meeting.

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