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Tuesday, April 29, 1997

"There is no decline in the U.S. government's interest in the Pacific Islands region," says Ambassador to Fiji Don Gevirtz. "I cannot state that emphatically enough."

He told a Honolulu meeting of Hawaii's Pacific and Asian Affairs Council today, that America's highest priority in the region now, however, is to increase trade and investment, to improve the economies of both the United States and the Pacific Islands nations.

Ambassador Gevirtz said he personally has visited more than fifty Fiji companies in efforts to stimulate trade. He encouraged Hawaii business representatives to do the same, to not overlook mutually beneficial goods, services, and investment opportunities throughout the South Pacific.

Gevirtz, resident U.S. ambassador in Suva for the past year and a half, also is accredited to Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu. In addition, he and his 125-member staff handle immigration and counselor services pertaining to French Polynesia.


The energetic, golf-playing Gevirtz from California, who calls himself a "rookie ambassador," said during his comments today that he has developed an increasingly close and personal relationship with Fiji's Prime Minister, Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka.

Gevirtz referred to Rabuka as "a very religious man" who "has shown great courage" in working diligently with political and traditional leaders to resolve Fiji's racially-weighted constitutional issue, which gives political preferences to indigenous Fijians over an almost equal number of Fijians of Indian ethnicity.

Resolution of this issue is progressing effectively, Gevirtz indicated. When the constitutional matter is fully resolved, added the U.S. ambassador, it will "kick off a substantial economic growth pattern," releasing development funds now held in reserve by Indo-Fijians.

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