SAMOA'S NAME CHANGE GETTING TOO MUCH ATTENTION: FALEOMAVAEGA

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (November 19, 1997 - PACNEWS)--- American Samoa's Representative in Washington, Eni F. H. Faleomavaega, says the U.S. South Pacific territory needs to focus more attention on some serious internal problems and stop its hand wringing over neighboring Samoa's recent name change from Western Samoa.

Speaking on Pago Pago television, the congressman again repeated his view that the territory does not have a right to interfere in the internal affairs of Samoa, a foreign nation, and specifically its decision to change its name.

Some American Samoans, including legislators, say the name change makes them fell less Samoan.

Faleomavaega said rather than spend time worrying about Samoa's identity, American Samoa should deal with more pertinent issues, such as the $13 million debt territorial hospitals owe to vendors.

Faleomavaega was especially critical of a bill now pending in the American Samoa House of Representatives which, if it became law, legally would not recognize Samoa's new name.

He said the proper procedure is for Governor Tauese Sunia to bring the matter to the attention of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, who has juristiction over territorial affairs. Then, U.S. President Bill Clinton, he added, should pursue the matter directly with Samoa's Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana.

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