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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 30, 1999 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's Co-Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tupeni Baba, says a number of "hot spots" in the region could have a potentially serious effect on security in the Pacific.

(West Papua militants on the Island of New Guinea are demanding independence, the decade-long Bougainville crisis still requires peacekeepers and ethnic unrest continues to appear in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.)

Dr. Baba told the Fiji Parliament that the region is vulnerable to external pressures and therefore the matter of regional security is of utmost importance.

He said the region also had its share of non-military problems, including maritime passage and seabed boundaries, climate change, sea-level rise, refugees and population flows, and exploitation of children.

He said other threats to security were the spread of contagious diseases and smuggling of illicit drugs by illegal immigrants entering the region.

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

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