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AVARUA, Cook Islands (November 30, 2000 - Cook Islands Television/PINA Nius Online)---A four person Cook Islands delegation has been in Tonga for a European Union/African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) workshop as links between the Cooks and Europe continue to grow.

The contacts will be expanded by two forthcoming visits by European Union (EU) officials to the Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands is one of six new members of the new arrangement between the EU and ACP states, and is eligible to receive funding under various financial mechanisms of the Cotonou Agreement.

The Cook Islands delegation to Tonga for the National Authorizing Officers (NAOs) workshop was led by the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Edward Drollett, accompanied by Dr. James Gosselin of Foreign Affairs; Dorice Reid representing the Chamber of Commerce; and Vereara Maeva for NGOs.

The EU visits to the Cooks begin this month with an introductory call by Ms. Vana Catsica, the Program Officer for the Pacific under the EU/ACP's Center for the Development of Enterprise (CDE).

Ms. Catsica's visit is expected to initiate activities by the center, which provides financial support for the development of private enterprise across all sectors of business.

At the end of the month, Mr. Bas Van Helden, a European Commission official with the Directorate-General of the Cotonou Agreement, will arrive for a two-day round of briefings.

This first visit will largely be a familiarization tour and provides an opportunity to meet government representatives.

Mr. Van Helden is expected to be accompanied by Mr. Franz Baan, the European Commission's new representative in Fiji.

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