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BANK OF HAWAII PLANS FURTHER PACIFIC EXPANSION

HONOLULU (June 21, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---The Bank of Hawaii is pursuing the purchase of two more banks in the Pacific islands region, one in French Polynesia and one in New Caledonia.

Letters of intent have been signed to acquire Paribas Group's interests --85 percent and 70 percent, respectively--in both Banque Paribas Pacifique and Banque Paribas Polynesie. The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of this year.

If the sale is concluded, Bank of Hawaii also is expected to make offers to acquire the remaining outstanding shares in the two Pacific Islands banks.

Bank of Hawaii is a subsidiary of Pacific Century Financial Corporation, which is Hawaii's largest financial organization. It owns and operates banks throughout Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia.

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Wed
25
Jun
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MARSHALL ISLANDS PRESIDENT KABUA "FREEZES" NUCLEAR WASTE SITE

STUDY

WASHINGTON (June 23, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---Marshall Islands President Imata Kabua, at a meeting this morning with US Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt in Washington, announced that his government is putting a "freeze" on the feasibility study that could lead to development of a radioactive waste disposal and storage facility in the Marshalls.

It was just a month ago that the RMI government announced that it had authorized the American firm, Babcock and Wilcox Nuclear Environmental Services, Inc., to study the possibility of developing waste dumps on one or more of the Micronesian nation's atolls. At the same time, Marshsalls officials also were reported to be soliciting funding for the study project from Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.

The feasibility study announcement resulted in Pacific-wide condemnation of the idea, even in the Marshall Islands. Kwajalein Senator Ataji Balos urged his Nitijela --or parliamentary-- colleagues to terminate the agreement,...

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Wed
25
Jun
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EXPANDED US COMMITMENT TO SOLOMON ISLANDS

HONIARA (June 22, 1997 - RADIO AUSTRALIA) ---The new American Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, Arma Jane Karaer, says the United States has a commitment to expand and develop further its relations with the Solomon Islands.

She says the relations between the two countries are based on firm foundations of bilateral, regional, and international cooperation.

The Ambassador says the US supports economic development programs that respect environmental values.

Ms. Karaer says the engagement of 55 American Peace Corps volunteers in secondary schools and development projects reflects Washington's commitment to the Solomon Islands.

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Wed
25
Jun
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NEW COOK ISLANDS NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL PARTICIPATES IN GOVERNMENT

BUDGETING PROCESS

RAROTONGA (June 22, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---The new Cook Islands National Development Council --whose eleven members represent the private business sector, non-government organizations, and churches-- has recommended a reduced Cook Islands government operating budget for next year, after hearing detailed budget proposals from each government ministry head.

Deputy Prime Minister Inatio Akaruru, who chairs the Council, says the recommendations were assembled into a final report and submitted to Cabinet last week.

The Cooks anticipate operating revenues --in the next financial year, beginning July 1-- of just over NZ$ 40 million, a significant decline compared to several prior years.

Fixed items in the Cook Islands government's budget include expenditures of over $7 million in welfare payments and over $5 million in debt servicing.

Akaruru says the Council, in considering 34 expenditure items, recommended increases in only two, fiscal...

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Wed
18
Jun
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PNG VOTERS FLEE AFTER BRA BURNS DOWN OFFICE

PORT MORESBY (June 19, 1997 - PACNEWS) ---The Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) in Papua New Guinea burned down the Wakunai District office on the embattled island Wednesday in what could be the first sign of PNG election-related violence by the Bougainville rebels.

People casting their votes about two kilometers away at an airfield, abandoned voting and fled for their lives when the rebels opened fire.

A very reliable source in the area told the PNG Post-Courier newspaper that candidates and supporters were "missed being shot to death by inches." The source said ballot boxes were rushed into helicopters standing by and flown away during the shooting and burning.

Security Forces commanding officer based at Loloho, Lieutenant-Colonel Tolam Manene, confirmed the burning and said no one was reported to have been injured or killed.

The voting in Bougainville is part of Papua New Guinea's fifth general election since receiving independence from Australia...

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Wed
18
Jun
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FIJI PRESIDENT MARA ORDERS BRITISH AMBASSADOR OUT

SUVA (June 16, 1997 - Radio Australia) ---Fiji's President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, reportedly ordered the British Ambassador, Michael Peart, out of his office after Peart suggested that Fiji apologize to Queen Elizabeth over her removal as Head of State a decade ago.

Fiji newspapers say the British Ambassador suggested an apology to the Queen would ease Fiji's re-entry to the Commonwealth.

Ratu Mara reportedly argued that there was no need for a formal apology because, despite being a republic, the Queen was held in high regard and was, in fact, still regarded as the Queen of Fiji.

The Fiji Post quotes a government source as claiming that Peart also breached diplomatic protocol by going directly to the President's office instead of making the approach through the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

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Wed
18
Jun
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COOKS WANTS US TELEPHONE CALL-BACK SYSTEM BANNED

AVARUA (June 15, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---"We must ban the American scam!" That's the no-nonsense view of Cook Islands Minister of Telecommunications Vaine Tairea, talking about the long-distance telephone call-back system that has been in effect in the Cooks since last January.

It works something like this. Telephone companies in the US program their computers to receive overseas calls. Just as soon as they're received, the computers immediately hang up and call back, reconnecting the call at US out-going rates.

Telecommunications Minister Tairea says the out-going rates then charged are below cost. But the US operators make up for the loss through revenues earned on the in-coming calls.

He says this arrangement may be good for the Americans, but it places a severe burden on overseas telephone companies, especially those in nations with small populations, such as the Cook Islands.

To put an end to the practice, MP Tairea has tabled a bill in Parliament to...

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Wed
18
Jun
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SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE UNDERWAY IN FSM

PALIKIR (June 15, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---"Sustainable Development in the Pacific Islands" is the subject of a regional conference now underway in Pohnpei, the capital island of the Federated States of Micronesia.

Delegates from American Samoa, Belau, Guam, the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States, as well as the FSM, will consider such matter as long-term Pacific ecological, economic, and social sustainability during the week-long series of meetings and field visits, June 16 - 21.

Over 150 government and NGO representatives are participating in the sessions, sponsored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The goal of the conference is to develop projects that will assist achieving sustainable development in the US Pacific insular areas and Freely Associated States. A "Call for Action" report will be published following the conference, with recommendations for implementing specific sustainable development projects...

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Wed
18
Jun
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RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL IN THE REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS

COMPLETE TEXT OF JUNE 13, 1997 PUBLIC ADDRESS

The Honorable Senator Ataji Balos, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs & Trade, Nitijela, Marshall Islands

People of the Republic of the Marshalls:

I come before you today to talk about an issue of extreme urgency to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, an issue which challenges the sovereignty of our young nation, and our Constitution which establishes our legal rights as citizens of the Marshall Islands. The issue which I am referring to is radioactive waste disposal by outsiders in the Marshall Islands.

As everyone in this nation knows, our people, and our environment have suffered acutely, as a direct result of the nuclear weapons testing program conducted in our islands. Many years ago, our leaders agreed to allow testing in our nation, because we Marshallese were persuaded that we had a contribution to make to world peace and security and that those of us who were displaced would soon be...

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Wed
18
Jun
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ALMOST SEVEN MILLION VISITORS TO HAWAII LAST YEAR

HONOLULU (June 15, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---The number of visitors arriving in the Hawaiian Islands last year increased by 2.9 percent over 1995 --to 6.8 million (6,823,130)-- but tourists and businessmen visiting from New Zealand and Australia were down significantly.

According to recently-released Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau figures, Japan remains Hawaii's biggest international market. The number of Japanese visitors last year --just over two million (2,089,760)-- represents an annual increase of 4.5 percent, and an all-time record high number.

Canada is Hawaii's second biggest tourist market. South Korea is third.

At 32,900, New Zealand visitor numbers were down 11.4 percent. Australian visitors declined 7.9 percent to 85,030.

1996 German and British visitors to Hawaii also both were down more than four percent, compared to 1995.

Tourism is Hawaii's primary industry. At any given moment, one or more out of every ten persons is a temporary...

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