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PRESS RELEASE July 30, 1999

U.S. Chargeé d’Affaires Larry Dinger departs Suva for Washington this weekend, having completed a three-year assignment representing U.S. interests in Fiji, Tonga, Nauru, and Tuvalu.

Dinger noted that the U.S. welcomed Fiji’s Constitutional developments during the past three years and the democratic progress evidenced in free and fair national elections last May. Dinger described U.S. relations with new PM Chaudhry’s Labor-led coalition as "warm and productive, just as they were with the previous Rabuka Government."

Dinger said the U.S. enjoys similarly cordial relations with the Kingdom of Tonga and the Governments of Nauru and Tuvalu.

Among the highlights of Dinger’s assignment were representing the U.S. at the 80th birthday celebrations for Tonga’s King Taufa‘ahau Tupou IV last July and at Tuvalu’s 20th anniversary of independence last October. He also greatly enjoyed visiting Nauru and meeting the President.

Dinger’s tenure saw a sizable increase in the amount of U.S. trade and investment facilitated by the embassy’s "aggressive outreach" activities in Fiji and Tonga.

Dinger noted that many people have commented to him about the dramatically increased visibility of American brand names.

"We must have been doing something right," he said, "since the State Department has described Embassy Suva as a "model" small-post commercial operation and has commissioned a training video to highlight the Embassy’s approach to trade facilitation."

Asked what he will miss most, Dinger quickly responded, "The people. In a way, the South Pacific communities are like the small-town Midwest where I grew up. People take an interest in each other. My family and I have loved that, and we will certainly miss the many friends we have made here… until we meet again."

Dinger’s replacement as Deputy Chief of Mission/Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., will be Ron McMulen, who will arrive in Suva in mid-August. In the interim, Embassy Administrative Officer Ms. Long Lee will serve as Chargé. Dinger predicted that Washington will soon have a new Ambassador in Suva as well.

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