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SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, May 27) - Fiji's shipyards will built
at least two tuna fishing vessels for French Polynesia's growing fleet, the
French territory's President Gaston Flosse announced Tuesday after talks with
Fiji's foreign minister Kaliopate Tavola.

Tavola is this week in French Polynesia, where he is leading a
high-level trade delegation consisting of Fiji's main exporting companies.

The firms are showcasing their products in a Pape'ete hotel,
where they are also making contacts with French Polynesian companies.

One of the stresses of the mission, apart from expanding the
current 3.5 million US dollar export value from Fiji to the French Pacific
territory, was also to offer a "Fiji solution" to French Polynesia.

During a meeting with Flosse on Tuesday (Monday Pape'ete time),
Tavola once again stressed that from Fiji companies' point of view, French
Polynesia was a "very attractive market with a very high purchasing

"We wish to expand and strengthen the existing ties between
our two countries", Tavola said.

Flosse told local reporters that he had already agreed in
principle that Fiji shipyards will build two tuna fishing vessels.

Another issue touched by the two leaders was French President
Jacques Chirac's planned visit late July in New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

While in Pape'ete, the French President is also scheduled to
meet most of the Pacific Islands heads of governments, including Fiji's Prime
minister Laisenia Qarase.

When Flosse was in Fiji in March this year, Qarase told him he
was "very excited" at the prospect of meeting face to face with
"the great leader".

The meeting, which is Flosse's initiative, aims at allowing
regional leaders to express their views on how they perceive France's future
role in the Pacific.

It was also expected to give a significant boost to French aid
to the region.

"Financial input from New Caledonia, French Polynesia and
metropolitan France all put together, should certainly make it possible to
initiate concrete projects at the regional level", Flosse said.

Later this week, Tavola is scheduled to meet France's
representative in French Polynesia, High Commissioner Michel Mathieu, as well as
territorial fisheries and finance ministers, Nina Vernaudon and Georges Puchon.

Meanwhile, the Fiji trade delegation will visit a number of
facilities, including tuna fishing and agriculture projects.

May 28, 2003

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