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MELBOURNE, Australia (Oct. 10, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The Cook Islands police minister told police chiefs from the Pacific Islands that terrorism has little relevance to the lives of the people they are supposed to be protecting.

Opening the annual South Pacific Chiefs of Police Conference in Rarotonga, Cook Island, Sir Geoffrey Henry questioned why terrorism and organized crime were the conference's two themes.

Henry, the former prime minister, told the assembled police chiefs that there was little anybody in the Pacific could do to combat terrorism no matter how dedicated they were.

He said terrorism had been around since biblical times and the answer was not bullets, rockets and bombs. He suggested such tactics would only escalate the problem.

Henry said eliminating poverty would be a more effective strategy than waging war since poverty, hunger and the lack of a good life bred terrorist acts.

He also scoffed at the other theme of the conference, organized crime, saying there was as much organized crime in the Pacific Islands as there were coconut trees in Trafalgar Square.

The Cook Islands police minister told the police chiefs to focus their minds, energy and budgets on their own countries, communities and people.

The weeklong conference will also look at combating sex crimes in the region.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are taking part as well as the international agency Interpol.

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

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