NEW US SENATE BILL PERTAINS TO PACIFIC ISLANDS MATTERS

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WASHINGTON (June 17, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---In Washington, the US Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee has introduced legislation involving several matters pertaining to the Pacific Islands region.

Included is a proposal to extend --by five years-- a program that provides food to the residents of four Marshal Islands atolls affected by the US nuclear weapons testing program at the end of World War II. The four atolls are Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utirik.

The legislation also recommends extending Federal housing assistance on Guam to residents from the Freely Associated States --Belau, the FSM, and the Marshalls-- as long as all eligible US citizens have been serviced.

Still another section of the Senate bill would make it easier for the government of Guam to acquire excess US military land in the Micronesian territory. The legislation calls for a 180-day process, whereby Guam and the US Fish and Wildlife Service would attempt to agree on transfer terms. If there is agreement, the transfer will take place. If not, a decision will be made by the US Congress.

Congressional debate on the proposals is expected to take place shortly.

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