AUSTRALIA'S AUSEO REPORT MAY HAVE BEEN LEAKED DELIBERATELY

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CANBERRA, Australia (July 29, 1997 - Radio Australia)---Australia's federal treasurer, Peter Costello, concedes it is possible that the now infamous AUSEO (Australian Eyes Only) documents, commenting disparagingly on South Pacific leaders and the state of their economies, was deliberate.

Two documents' contents --obtained by a Reuters news agency correspondent during a recent meeting of South Pacific economic ministers in Australia-- have been reported extensively in regional media, resulting in strong criticism of Australia by some of Pacific leaders

Costello says an official inquiry hopefully will discover if the leak was deliberate or accidental.

"It's possible, when leaks occur, that they could be deliberate," he said. "Yes, of course it is, and it's one of the reasons why you have inquiries, to try to get to the bottom of it."

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