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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 14, 1999 - Radio Australia)---A Fiji-based United States diplomat says America remains very active in the South Pacific.

The Chargé d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Larry Dinger, denies the closure of America's International Development Office a few years ago signaled that U.S. interest in the region was flagging.

He made the comments at a business conference in Suva on Trade and Investment involving businessmen and officials from Fiji, Tonga and the U.S.

The three-day conference was organized to explore ways to enhance trade and investment between the U.S. and Pacific Island countries.

Mr. Dinger said in recent years aid has actually increased in dollar terms, although assistance is now mostly provided through multi-lateral institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Fiji Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry acknowledged the increasing number of American investments in the country, citing the investments by Sheraton, Hyatt and Outrigger.

Mr. Chaudhry also said the U.S. was in a position to become Fiji's largest tourist market.

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

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