FIJI'S RABUKA MAY RECONSIDER DOWNER VISIT AFTER AUSTEO REPORT FLAP

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SUVA, Fiji (August 3, 1997 - PACNEWS + PIDP/CPIS)---Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka says he may reconsider hosting a proposed visit to Fiji by Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, which is planned for later this year.

Rabuka's comments follow the failure by Australian government officials to explain release of the controversial AUSTEO (Australian Eyes Only) Report at last month's Forum Economic Ministers' Conference in Cairns, Australia.

The report is critical of many Pacific Islands region leaders and economies.

Fiji's Finance Minister, Berenado Vunibobo, is described in the report as being "disappointing, " adding that "He knows Fiji needs to be more competitive but has been unable to cut departmental spending or stem Fiji's growing budget deficit."

The AUSTEO Report adds that Vunibobo "is still given to Third World posturing against Western colonialism, of which he sees the Indian presence in Fiji as a legacy."

Last week, Australian Treasurer Peter Costello said that his government would not apologize for the report, adding that government ministers had no control over what their employees wrote.

(Excerpts from the AUSTEO Report will be included in the PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT daily, Monday - Friday, through August 21.

 

 

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