NAURU PRAISES TAIWAN FOR $5 MILLION FORUM SUMMIT HELP

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By Walter Nalangu Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

YAREN, Nauru (August 13, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---Taiwan earlier contributed US$ 5 million towards helping Nauru host this week's 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum summit, Nauru's acting Foreign Affairs Minister Ross Cain said.

Among other things, Mr. Cain said the funding has permitted refurbishing the island's main hotel, the Hotel Menen, on the coast, where heads of delegations and senior officials will be accommodated.

Taiwan's funding also has been used to upgrade the Civic Center, where the main Forum meetings will be held.

The Nauru government has spoken highly of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for helping with the preparations.

Nauru is one of several Pacific Island countries that has diplomatic links with the government in Taipei, Taiwan (Republic of China), instead of the Mainland China government in Beijing (People's Republic of China).

China -- which regards Taiwan as a renegade province -- made an issue of Taiwan's Forum links during last year's post-Forum dialogue meetings in Tarawa, Kiribati. A Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs warned that China might not take part this year if plans to entertain Taiwan in Nauru go forward.

Mr. Cain also paid tribute to the Forum assistance provided to Nauru by Australia and South Korea.

He said: "Taiwan has provided over about 5 million U.S. dollars. That could be more. I don’t have the exact figures. Australia [provided] about 100 thousand [US] dollars and Korea 50 thousand [US].

"So those are the three main sponsors."

Nauru has been rushing to get ready to host the delegations from Forum members and associated groups.

Government Chief Secretary Mathew Batsiua said that the foundation for preparations was not so ideal because Nauru was only given the opportunity to host the meeting early this year. This came after New Zealand objections prevented it being held in Fiji.

But Mr. Batsiua said: "We've done a lot in terms of getting the infrastructure in place to accommodate such an important gathering of the region.

"We've renovated the hotels, done a bit of renovation to the conference hall for the main summit, and organized things like food, which is an issue in small island states.

"Everything has come together quite nicely over the past weeks."

Nauru is expecting more than 200 delegates. But missing will be the leaders of e three of the Forum's four biggest members. Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta and Fiji caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase will all be represented by deputy prime ministers or ministers.

Mr. Howard has decided to miss the Forum for the third time, Sir Mekere said he has priorities in Papua New Guinea and Mr. Qarase is in the final stages of leading his party in Fiji's general elections campaign.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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