US NEGOTIATOR SAYS US WILL INVOLVE CNMI IN FREE ASSOCIATION TALKS

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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (June 2, 1999 - Radio Australia)---America's appointee to renegotiate the Compacts of Free Association with the Marshall Islands and Commonwealth of Northern Marianas, has played down concerns over CNMI involvement in the talks.

Governor Pedro Tenorio is upset at reports Alan Stayman has appointed the islands' Resident Representative to Washington as the Northern Marianas' delegate at the talks in October. Governor Tenorio says such a move undermines the CNMI's elected officials. However, Mr Stayman says he's made no such appointment:

"This is one of those cases in which there was an original oral comment and that was reported out in Hawaii and that was reported out in Guam and that was reported in CNMI and it got a little transmuted at each location."

"And what had been my statement that I would be seeking the input of the territories, by the time it got out to Saipan, it was that I had appointed Babouta."

"And so I think it was a misunderstanding but it hit a sensitive political chord out in Saipan."

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