NIUE DISPLEASED WITH NEW ZEALAND PM'S ABSENCE AT SOUTH PACIFIC FORUM

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ALOFI, Niue (September 16, 1999 – Radio Australia)---Niue’s Acting Premier Young Vivian has criticized New Zealand Prime Minister Jenny Shipley’s decision not to attend next month’s South Pacific Forum summit in Palau.

Mr. Vivian said Mrs. Shipley's announcement that she will send her Attorney General, Sir Douglas Graham, in her place, lowers the standing of the Forum.

The presence of regional leaders at the annual Forum meeting gives it status and integrity, he said.

"I think from a small country's point of view it is important for the key players of our Forum to be there, to give it the status and the respect that is required.

"If they're going to discuss anything of substance," the Acting Premier said, "it’s important that the Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of New Zealand be there."

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

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