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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (December 28, 1997 - Marshall Islands Journal)--- The U.S. Postal Service said last week that "significant progress has been made towards increasing the mail lift into and out of Majuro."

The announcement was made in reply to a series of questions the Journal asked a U.S. Postal Service official in Honolulu.

At a meeting in Washington, D.C. earlier this month, the Department of Interior indicated that funding for increased "guaranteed mail lift" may be available, said Leo B. Tudela, the senior executive advisor in the USPS's International Business Unit.

Tudela and the USPS Honolulu transportation manager met with officials from the departments of Defense, Interior and State in Washington, D.C. on December 4.

"At that meeting we were pleased to learn that based upon the dollar amount the USPS is projecting for guaranteed mail lift, the Department of Interior indicated funding may be available," Tudela said.

Increased funding for government programs "is very difficult under the current budget constraints of the U.S. Congress," he added. Interior, however, worked very hard to "find funding not originally in the current year's budget" for improving the mail delivery to Majuro, Tudela said.

He pointed out that the USPS receives its reimbursement from Interior under the Compact of Free Association.

The USPS also issued a request for bids in October to provide guaranteed mail delivery service to Majuro.

"Our procurement office in Washington, D.C. is reviewing the solicitations which were received," Tudela said. "In addition, the U.S. Postal Service continues to work with the Department of Defense in further seeking an interagency solution with an increased dependence on military aircraft for carrying mail."

The USPS, however, is several months away from awarding a contract, he said.

In the meantime, staff at the Honolulu USPS facility continue to "monitor the flow of mail into and out of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to minimize backlogs."

Marshall Islands Journal Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: Fax: 692-625-3136 Tel. 692-625-8143 Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international US $227.00 (air mail)

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