FIJI SEIZES GRAND PACIFIC HOTEL FROM NAURU

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 29, 2000 – Radio Australia)--The Fiji government has taken the unprecedented step of seizing a hotel, owned by the government of Nauru, which is located on prime Suva waterfront land.

The Grand Pacific Hotel, an 86-year-old building, in its day accommodated such guests as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and writer James Michener.

Today, however, it is in ruins and abandoned, and Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry said as part of the country's national heritage, it could not be allowed to remain a blight on the Fiji shore.

The seizure action follows several years of negotiations with the hotel’s owner, the Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust Fund, during which the Fiji government threatened to repossess the hotel if the fund did not reopen it.

The Nauru government-controlled fund was set up to invest the earnings made from phosphate mining, but over the years it did not invest in reopening the Suva hotel.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers, which looks after the trust's interests in Fiji, said it was not aware of the Fiji government’s move.

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

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