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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, April 6) – France and New Zealand on Tuesday signed a joint agreement to finance rebuilding efforts on the small Pacific island nation of Niue, which was devastated by tropical cyclone Heta in January 2004.

New Zealand foreign affairs minister Winston Peters and visiting French minister for overseas territories, Fran̤ois Baroin, have jointly announced that under the agreement Рthought to be a first - New Zealand will provide NZ$2 million [US$1.2 million] and France would contribute 530,000 euros [US$645,000] to the New Zealand Agency for International Development, NZAID.

The funds are to be used to build what is described as an administrative building on Niue.

The previous public service centre was partly destroyed by the 2004 super cyclone.

Niue's High Commissioner to New Zealand, HE Mrs Sisilia Talagi, also signed the agreement, on behalf of Niue, a self-governing country that maintains a "free association" relationship with New Zealand since 1974.

"New Zealand and Niue have long had a special relationship, and this project is an example also of France's cooperation in the Pacific", Peters said in a release.

April 7, 2006

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