AMERICAN SAMOA LIFTS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS ON FIJI

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (PINA, Jan. 13) - Gov. Tauese Sunia has ordered Fiji removed from the list of countries whose citizens need special approval from the attorney general to enter American Samoa, an official said.

Tause has given instructions to Attorney General Fiti Sunia, the official confirmed.

Fiji’s inclusion on the "security" list of 25 countries caused anger in Fiji and some embarrassment among American Samoans who have visited Fiji or have Fiji friends.

Countries on the list were mainly from the Middle East and Asia. The American Samoan government is believed to have included Fiji because it has a Muslim community.

In Suva, Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase this week raised the issue with the new United States ambassador, David Lyon.

Delivering the keynote address at a local Muslim organization’s convention Friday, Qarase said Lyon assured him that the U.S. government was discussing the issue with the American Samoans.

Qarase said it was unacceptable that Fiji should be treated in that way only because it has a Muslim community.

American Samoa, an unincorporated U.S. territory, largely controls its own immigration. But the territory is heavily dependent on federal support.

American Samoa had at first imposed restrictions on people of Middle Eastern descent after what is claimed was a "credible" security alert.

But it changed this to a new list of countries after outrage in the U.S. led by Arab-American groups.

The 24 countries now believed on the American Samoan list are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabian, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

January 13, 2003

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