AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND DISMISS BOUGAINVILLE THREATS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 3, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The Australian and New Zealand governments have dismissed the threats of Bougainville's hard-line secessionist leader, Francis Ona, to shoot unarmed peace keepers on sight.

The warnings came after the signing of a peace treaty last Thursday week that ended a decade of civil war on the Papua New Guinea island.

Both Australia and New Zealand says there is no plan to remove the Peace Monitoring Group.

The peace monitors from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu are under instructions, however, not to enter the Central Bougainville area under Mr. Ona' control.

In Canberra, Australia's Federal Opposition leader Kim Beazley says Mr. Ona's threats are disturbing, but says the peace process must be kept alive.

Meantime, the United States government has congratulated the Bougainville peace treaty signatories, saying the treaty gives the people of Bougainville the opportunity to build a secure and prosperous future.

The State Department says all parties now should move forward together in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.

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