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PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Aug. 31) - French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru announced Tuesday during a tour of the Marquesas Islands that he would finally prefer the island of Hiva Oa rather than Nuku Hiva for an International airport, the French language daily "La Dépêche de Tahiti" reported Wednesday.

[PIR editor’s note: See map of French Polynesia. ]

French Polynesia minister Jean-Alain Frébault, in charge of development of Archipelagos, and who is also from Hiva Oa, said the decision is logical since this island is well known worldwide because of the graves of French painter Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel.

Nuku Hiva mayor Louis Frébault said he was however surprised by the announcement.

"A few months ago, during a meeting of all Marquesan mayors with French Polynesia President Temaru, we all agreed that this airport will be in Nuku Hiva," Louis Frébault told La Dépêche de Tahiti. "I respect this decision but I am surprised by it.".

No indications on the cost of building an international airport in the Marquesas islands has been given yet by government officials.

Domestic airline Air Tahiti has ATR planes flying to Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa several times a week from Tahiti but no international flight is possible yet.

Hiva Oa landing runway is known to be a difficult one with strong winds and an important slope for planes.

The Marquesas Islands are located around 1,000 miles Northeast of Tahiti.

September 1, 2006

Tahitipresse: www.tahitipresse.pf

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