AUSTRALIA PICKS UP NAURU PAYROLL TAB

SUVA, Fiji (PINA, Dec. 24) - Australia is bailing out the Nauru government by paying its public servants in the lead-up to Christmas.

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer revealed the Christmas gift of A$1.2 million (US$890,000) to Nauru at a news conference during a visit to Fiji.

He made the announcement after being questioned about his request officials to prepare an options paper on what Australia can do to ensure the future of Nauru’s 10,000 people.

"Look, I’d be the first to admit it’s an ad-hoc decision, there is no question of that," he said.

While describing the suggestion of automatic Australian citizenship as fanciful, Downer said Nauru was in real financial difficulties.

"We do need to find medium-to-long-term solutions to the difficulties that Nauru is facing," he added.

December 26, 2003

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