NORTHERN MARIANAS PUSHES FOR U.S. MILITARY ROLE

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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (June 27, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The Northern Marianas’ representative in Washington, D.C., Juan Babauta, says a proposal to transfer some U.S. military training exercises to Guam, Saipan and Tinian has been put on hold.

The proposal was in response to calls to reduce the U.S. military presence in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa.

Mr. Babauta says a U.S. military feasibility team studying the possibilities believes the Micronesian Pacific islands are not large enough to host the exercises -- which would involve up to 25,000 troops.

He says he will suggest that Tinian be considered for sophisticated military operations in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly for intelligence and telecommunication purposes.

Tinian is a small island, with an estimated population of about 6,000 residents, which was used as a military base during World War II.

It was from Tinian that the U.S. launched atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

U.S. and Japanese military representatives, including U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, held talks last week on the issue of reducing the U.S. military presence in Okinawa.

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

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