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PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, July 18) - The first Pacific Youth Festival opened Monday in Papeéte with more than 1,000 young people from throughout the Pacific. They will discuss during one week different topics such as health, education, cultural diversity, peace and good governance.

In the opening speech, French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru made remarks about Tahiti's independence, saying the topic was missing from the agenda and should be discussed.

This new statement concerning independence reportedly displeased the French high commissioner's representative.

Temaru returned to Tahiti Sunday night from a trip to Europe. He did not attend July 14 French national holiday ceremonies in France nor in French Polynesia.

During the festival opening ceremony, the director general of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Dr. Jimmy Rodgers stressed the importance of youth for the future of Pacific states.

Rodgers asked Pacific youth to "stand up and be counted, and change the negatives to positives."

He stressed the challenge of threats such as HIV/AIDS or the avian influenza for small Pacific communities.

The first Pacific Youth Festival is organized by the French Polynesian government, a local NGO, the Polynesian Union for Youth, and several national and international institutions such as the UNESCO, the French Overseas Ministry, the French Ministry of Youth and the International Federation of Football.

The material from the week-long debates will be used to draft a Pacific Youth Charter and this new charter should be presented at the 2007 World Youth Festival in Mexico.

July 19, 2006

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.pf

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