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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (May 19, 1999 – Radio Australia)---A new headquarters for Vanuatu's Security Forces has opened in the capital, Port Vila.

Representatives of the Vanuatu government, the Australian Defense Force and overseas missions, attended the official opening yesterday.

Australia contributed 96 percent of the cost of constructing the $1.5 million building, which accommodates the marine, police and the mobile forces under one roof.

Representing Australia at the opening ceremony, Brigadier Tys said Vanuatu plays an important role in Australia's overall defense strategy.

"Australia takes its security interests very very seriously." He said, "and Vanuatu gets a special mention.

"Of course, we regard Vanuatu as a tier one country in the southwest Pacific. Vanuatu is only two hours flying time from Brisbane, so clearly events that take place in Vanuatu will impact upon the security of Australia.

"So it is very very much in our region," he stressed.

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