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Government of the Cook Islands

Office of the Prime Minister

The environmental lobby group Greenpeace today presented a petition protesting nuclear waste shipments through the Pacific to the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Hon Sir Geoffrey Henry, who is this week hosting the 28th annual meeting of the South Pacific Forum.

Sir Geoffrey was accompanied by the Secretary General of the South Pacific Forum Secretariat, Hon Ieremia T Tabai, when the petition was received at the Prime Minister's office in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands.

In a brief address, the Cook Islands Prime Minister referred to previous concerns expressed by the Forum group on a number of nuclear-related issues.

At last year's Forum meeting in Majuro, the Republic of the Marshall Islands the Forum Leaders agreed that shipments of plutonium and radioactive wastes through the region posed a continuing concern.

The Forum called for such shipments to be carried out in accordance with the highest international safety and security standards, in a manner which satisfactorily addressed all possible contingencies, and in full consultation with Forum countries.

Thousands of signatures were collected by Greenpeace in recent months in support of efforts to halt further shipments of nuclear wastes and plutonium through the region.

As host of the Forum meeting, Sir Geoffrey will also assume the Chair of the 16-member Forum group when the meeting is officially opened tomorrow.

Member states of the South Pacific Forum are Australia, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

16 September 1997

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