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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (October 19, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The Marshall Islands is seeking an extension of the funding provisions of its Compact of Free Association with the United States for more than the current 15-year arrangement, which concludes in 2001.

Foreign Minister Phillip Muller said the Marshalls is encouraging the U.S. to include incentives in any future agreement that would help attract U.S. business investors.

He said expanding the private sector is the only way the Marshalls can achieve economic self-sufficiency.

It is essential that the Marshall Islands boost its private sector activities, the Foreign Minister added, as U.S. government funding is not likely to continue at its current level in the new century.

Over the 15 year life of the compact, the U-S will have provided the Marshalls with about $800 million in aid funding.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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