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YAREN, Nauru (February 26, 1999 - PACNEWS/Radio Nauru)---Former President of Nauru Lagumot Harris has called for the rehabilitation of Nauru's land, devastated by phosphate mining.

He made the call at a national summit that is discussing social and economic development strategies for the island in the new millennium.

A study by an Australian panel of experts in 1994 concluded that rehabilitation is technically feasible and will take about 23 years at a cost of about US$ 210 million.

Harris said rehabilitation is essential to fulfil Nauru's social and economic objectives. The overall process must take the form of urban development, he said, and protecting the life, health and safety of the island nation's people.

Nauru's ideal population size should be between 25,000 and 35,000 people, Harris suggested.

Much of Nauru -- a 21 square kilometer (12.6 square mile) island -- has been mined out for its now declining phosphate deposits.

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