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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 31, 2002 – Radio Australia)---A weeklong official visit to China by Fiji's Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has yielded a special grant of almost F$ 7.5 million (US$ 3,506,250) that can be used as the government decides.

The PACNEWS service says it's likely the money will be used to purchase two ships to service Fiji's outer islands.

Mr. Qarase also is seeking Chinese funding to help construct a "Pacific Village" in Suva to house regional organizations and serve as a conference center.


SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 30, 2002 – Radio Australia)---China has renewed its commitment to involve itself in the commercial production of Fiji's huge mahogany plantations.

As Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports, the commitment was conveyed to the visiting Fiji trade and investment delegation in Beijing, headed by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

The Fiji government has welcomed China's offer with particular interest in the high returns it promises for landowners.

"The Chinese government's offer is to set-up processing plants in Fiji to maximize the export value of the resource. It will also generate hundreds of new jobs and open up rural areas of Fiji.

"In November last year a Chinese delegation visited Fiji and discussed the issue of mahogany. The Fiji government informed them that while Fiji welcomed China's offer, it was not keen on selling unprocessed mahogany. This has prompted China's offer to assist in processing mahogany, which will increase the returns on investment.

"The Fiji delegation now in China will discuss the logistics of the renewed Chinese offer in greater detail with their Chinese counterparts over the next few days.

"Meantime, Prime Minister Qarase has invited China to be an observer at this year's South Pacific Forum leaders’ meeting in Fiji.

"Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva.

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

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