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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 7, 2000 – The National)---A joint European Union (EU) and PNG Government delegation arrived on Bougainville yesterday to launch a K 15 million (US$ 5.7 million) support program.

The aim of the program is to support agriculture rehabilitation, particularly the smallholder producers of cocoa and coconut on the strife torn island.

Bougainville, before the crisis, was PNG's leading producer of copra and cocoa.

Feeder roads, landing points and development credit schemes will be put in place during the early stages of the project.

The delegation is comprised of European Commission in PNG chief Juan Carlos Rey, Commission economic advisor Richard Applebee and the assistant secretary of the Department of National Planning and Implementation.

Funding for the K 15 million project was made available by the EU through the Stabex instrument of the Lomé Convention. The basic agreement was signed by Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta.

Bougainvillean Stan Basiou will coordinate the program.

Mr. Rey said he is extremely pleased to have been able to identify a Bougainvillean to coordinate the EU program.

"The choice reflects the shared concern of the EU and the PNG Government, that the program should be for Bougainvilleans and implemented to the greatest extent possible by the Bougainvilleans themselves," he said.

He said the activities must be carried out in close cooperation between Bougainville authorities, beneficiary communities and other donors.

Mr. Rey said: "An intense and permanent process of coordination with other donors working in the sectors concerned by the program, most particularly the UN Development Program and AusAid, will be maintained throughout implementation.

"Close cooperation between donors is crucial to success and donors must avoid overlap and learn from each others' experience."

The delegation will hold talks with Bougainville leaders during their stay. The delegation plans to return to Port Moresby tomorrow.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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