GUADALCANAL TOURIST SITES ON HOLD

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (July 31, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---A plan to turn World War II battle sites on Guadalcanal into a major international tourist attraction has been put on hold because of ethnic fighting between warring factions in the Solomons.

But the U.S.-based Battle of Guadalcanal and Solomon Islands Foundation said Kennedy Island in Western Province can be safely developed into a visitor destination in the meantime.

The island is where U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his PT-109 crew washed up after colliding with a Japanese destroyer.

Foundation spokesman Bill Fischer said that with the help of the Kennedy family, the island could become a magnet for American tourists.

Fischer said Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) has committed to talking with the foundation about the plans, although a meeting date has not been scheduled.

"We’re going into something that’s very sacred to their family," Fischer said.

Meanwhile, the recent upsurge in fighting on Guadalcanal Island has slowed plans by the foundation to identify war artifacts because flights into the country have been limited.

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

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