NO CASTRO IT SEEMS, BUT FIJI PM QARASE SURE OF GOOD ACP TURNOUT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 9, 2002 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase expects good attendance next week at the 3rd African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) leaders' summit.

He said Cuban Leader Fidel Castro will not attend the 78-nation summit, despite earlier speculation that he would, but many other leaders will be there.

Mr. Castro is expected to send representatives.

Mr. Qarase said: "Confirmations are still coming in. It looks like we might even have a better attendance then those in the previous two summits, held in Libreville and Santo Domingo."

Mr. Qarase said the focus of the summit would be on preparing for negotiations for a new economic partnership agreement with the European Union under the Cotonou Agreement.

This will be under the overall theme "ACP Solidarity in a Globalized World," he said.

"This theme is appropriate since ACP countries must stand united in negotiations not only with the EU but also with other major organizations."

Mr. Qarase said issues such as nuclear shipments through Pacific waters might also be discussed but were not part of the formal agenda.

Mr. Qarase said he was overwhelmed by the support from the private sector for the summit.

Yesterday, the Homecentres stores donated F$ 10,000 (US$ 4,762), joining other support from the private sector which includes cash, cars, meals and gifts for delegates.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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

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