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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, July 18) – A special envoy of the Vanuatu government, Thi Tham Goiset, was detained and questioned last weekend by New Caledonian authorities.

According to government sources, Mrs Goiset would not have been arrested had she cooperated with the immigration authorities in New Caledonia.

From information received from Noumea, Mrs Goiset was temporarily arrested and questioned for travelling without declaring to the customs officers of New Caledonia an amount of approximately VT6 million (US$55,555) in her possession.

According to the first PA in the ministry of foreign affairs, Andre Lesines this money was intended for certain government projects.

He went on to say that Goset was travelling with a diplomatic passport, which the government had given her so that she could carry out her duties as special envoy.

The Caledonian press said that her diplomatic passport prevented her being put behind bars.

According to the same sources, the prize was a certain number of passports, which were taken from Goiset and have become the property of the French government.

Mrs Goiset was able to return to Vanuatu, but without the passports.

The Independent has tried in vain to have further comment from the ministry of foreign affairs in the matter.

Goiset was travelling with Minister For Foreign Affairs Sato Kilman on an official European tour when she was detained at the Tontouta airport, New Caledonia.

The same sources said that minister Kilman, presently overseas, would be asked to explain the incident to the council of ministers.

Some coalition partners have been critical of the role played by Goiset.

July 19, 2005

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