COOK ISLANDS APPROVES OECD INITIATIVE

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (March 1, 2002 – Radio New Zealand International)---The Cook Islands Cabinet has unanimously approved the initiatives required by the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation aimed at getting the Cooks off an OECD blacklist of uncooperative countries.

The move came after Prime Minister Dr. Robert Woonton outlined the risks the country would face if it failed to comply with the OECD demands.

The Cabinet approval was accompanied by six conditions including one that says OECD member countries must meet the same commitments asked of the Cooks.

The Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand, Wilkie Rasmussen, said although the government wants to meet OECD demands, the conditions illustrate that demands cannot be imposed only on smaller countries.

"In our situation, we are making it very, very clear that there are certain things that our country, under our constitution, we ought to preserve.

"If we sacrifice those things, then it would look like the OECD countries are basically bullying countries like ours into submission," the diplomat said.

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

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