GUAM CLOSES DOOR TO BURMESE REFUGEES

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HAGÅTÑA, Guam (December 21, 2000 – BBC News)---The governor of the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam, Carl T. C. Gutierrez, says the federal government in Washington has decided to close a loophole in the law which had allowed Burmese nationals to travel to Guam without visas.

Governor Gutierrez told the BBC that the decision followed the recent arrival of more than 700 Burmese nationals who had sought and received political asylum in Guam after arriving as tourists.

He said the decision had been taken in part to protect the tourist industry in Guam, which is dependent on visa-free travel from countries including Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

A Burmese community worker in Guam said the decision closed one of the few doors open to those fleeing political and religious persecution in Burma.

For additional reports from the BBC, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/BBC News: Asia-Pacific.

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