UN TO PERMIT VANUATU TO RETAIN "LEAST DEVELOPED" STATUS

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (July 29, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The United Nations says it will permit Vanuatu to retain its "Least Developed Country" status, pending further review.

There had been moves to upgrade Vanuatu's status, which could have made it less eligible for assistance from aid agencies and international banks.

Melanesian nations lobbied the UN, asking that Vanuatu's status not be changed prematurely.

The UN Economic and Social Council says it will not make any change until it reviews the criteria by which it makes such assessments.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Donald Kalpokas has welcomed the decision and thanked Melanesian nations for their special efforts on Vanuatu's behalf.

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