CHINA READY TO DISCUSS FATE OF BOAT PEOPLE IN NEW CALEDONIA

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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (March 27, 1998 - Radio Australia)---China's new Premier, Zhu Rongji, is prepared to discuss the fate of 110 Chinese boat people in New Caledonia when he meets the French officials in Paris next week.

Authorities in the French Pacific territory rejected the boat peoples' claim for political asylum, but canceled moves to send them back to China on Sunday after weeks of protests.

They have been allowed to remain in New Caledonia for the time being, but French authorities say a decision on their future will be made soon.

A spokesman for the Chinese Premier says Zhu will not avoid discussing the issue if it is raised by French officials during the Paris talks.

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