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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (June 23, 2000 – Marshall Islands Journal)---RMI Ambassador to Taiwan Evelyn Konou has hired a San Francisco law firm to counteract what she said are "false and defamatory statements" that she claims were made against her.

Konou claims the statements have damaged her reputation across the entire Pacific basin.

Konou’s lawyer, Malcolm Smith, in a blistering letter to the Journal’s editor, has demanded publication of an immediate retraction and correction of the article, which he claims, defames the unsalaried ambassador.

(Note: The article, Jacklick Says Expect Changes In Overseas Marshall Islands Embassies, also was published by the Pacific Islands Report [ ]

Attorney Smith (not known to be a relative of Ambassador Konou) was referring to an article on page three of the May 19 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal. The article, which quoted statements from the RMI’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alvin Jacklick, reported that Konou’s salary has been "suspended" since she hasn’t been at the her post since mid-1999.

Minister Jacklick also indicated that the whole question of the necessity for a full ambassadorship for Taiwan was under review.

Attorney Smith claims that the statements of Minister Jacklick are "false, defamatory and misleading," asserting Ambassador Konou has performed in accordance with her instructions and has fully complied with all duties assigned to her.

"She has been ‘on the job’ since her appointment. She was not in Taiwan solely because she was directed not to got to Taiwan pending review of RMI policy towards Taiwan," wrote Smith.

Accusing the newspaper of having made no effort to contact Ambassador Konou prior to publication of the article, Konou’s lawyer says the paper has acted with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the statements.

Attorney Smith told the Journal that even publishing a correction will not shield the publication from legal action, collection and damages.

"Looks like we’re going to get hit no matter what we do or don’t do," said the Journal’s publisher, Joe Murphy, in reference to the attorney’s warning.

Editor Giff Johnson was off-island this week and unavailable for comment.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail:  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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