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TARAWA, Kiribati (August 20, 1997 - PACNEWS)---A multi-billion dollar Christmas (Kiritimati) Island construction project --including a Japanese rocket landing site, a 200-room hotel, and support facilities-- is expected to get underway before the end of the year in eastern Kiribati.

Kiribati Secretary of Information, Transport and Communication, Meita Beiabure, confirmed the plan following recent talks in Japan with National Space Development Agency (NASDA) officials.

NASDA, which already has a satellite tracking station on Christmas Island, will send a team to the Kiribati capital of Tarawa September 22 to further pursue project construction plans, including submission of an environmental impact assessment, with President Teburoro Tito and other officials.

The expanded Japanese plans call for tracking and landing rockets on Christmas Island that will be launched from Japan.

The planned 200-room hotel, to be funded by Mitsubishi, will be used by rocket project workers from Japan as well as tourists visiting the island for fishing and diving.

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