HIGH PROFILE U.S. LAW FIRM TO HELP NEGOTIATE KWAJALEIN MISSILE RANGE DEAL

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (February 25, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The Marshall Islands government has hired a high-profile Mississippi law firm to negotiate a "better deal" with the U.S. Defense Department for continued use of Kwajalein as a missile test range.

The test range is central to Washington's plans for further development of an intercontinental missile defense system, but Washington has so far refused to discuss paying increased rent.

Senator Ataji Balos said Kwajalein landowners have hired the law firm of Richard F. Scruggs, which won a one billion dollar settlement from the U.S. tobacco industry in the mid-1990s.

He said the law firm will seek a better financial deal for Kwajalein’s use during talks this year over renewal of some sections of the U.S.-Marshall Islands Compact of Free Association.

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

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