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FUNAFUTI, Tuvalu (February 24, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Tuvalu Prime Minister Ionatana Ionatana admits he is confused by conflicting reports about sea levels surrounding Tuvalu.

Tuvalu is a low-lying island nation which has been experiencing abnormally high spring tides in recent years, which Tuvaluans believe will eventually force them to evacuate to another country.

But Prime Minister Ionatana said scientists who have been monitoring sea levels since 1980 say Tuvalu's sea levels have been falling and not rising.

"Scientists have confused us.

"The Australian government has recently told us from the facts, from the figures, that these tide gauges have provided to Flinders University that there is not going to be a sea rise in the immediate future for Tuvalu. It has been noticed that the sea is falling," he said.

"So here we are with the situation. We are threatened by rising sea levels and here are these tide gauges telling us there is no sea rise. There is likely to be a sea level fall.

"Now where do we stand here?"

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

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