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Wed
11
Jun
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REPUBLIC OF CHINA ASSISTING TONGAN AGRICULTURE

NUKU'ALOFA (June 11, 1997 - PACNEWS) ---The governments of Tonga and the Republic of China have signed an agricultural cooperation agreement designed to boost Tonga's agricultural development.

The accord was signed in Nuku'alofa today by Tonga's Prime Minister, Baron Vaea, and the Republic of China's Vice Foreign Minister, Tzen Wen-hua.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Baron Vaea said Tonga has benefited significantly --both socially and financially-- from the Republic of China. He said the new agreement marks the Silver Jubilee of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which were established in 1972.

Tzen Wen-hua responded with a tribute to the friendly relationship that exists between his country and Tonga. He said both countries share common ideals in their efforts to promote the well-being of their people.

Meantime, Tonga's Director of Agriculture, Haniteli Fa'anunu, says the government of the Republic of China has dispatched a special...

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Wed
28
May
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TONGAN HEALTH MINISTRY DENIES BAD FOOD ACCUSATIONS

NUKU'ALOFA --A spokesman for Tonga's Ministry of Health has denied reports that Tonga and Papua New Guinea top the list of Pacific countries with the greatest concern over consumption of inferior meat and out of date food items imported from New Zealand and Australia.

In an article in the New Zealand Herald newspaper, New Zealand and Australia are accused of dumping their inferior meat products in the Pacific island countries, particularly mutton flaps, Radio Tonga reports.

The spokesman says the accusation may not be true, adding that mutton flaps are a popular and a cheap source of meat to many people in the kingdom. He says the ministry advertised warnings of health problems connected with the consumption of fatty mutton flaps and other meat products, but the decision to buy or not to buy lies with the consumer.

The spokesman says the problem of overstocking by stores is the main reason of out-dated products, and he does not believe they come as expired...

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Wed
28
May
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MARSHALLS TO GO AHEAD WITH NUCLEAR WASTE PLANS

SUVA --Greenpeace is disappointed the Marshall Islands government has decided to go ahead with a feasibility study to establish a nuclear waste facility on one of its islands.

Marshall Islands cabinet minister, Litokwa Tomeing, announced Thursday that a US company, a subsidiary of Babcock and Wilcox, has been hired to conduct a feasibility study which is expected to take two years to complete.

Greenpeace's Bunny McDiarmid said conducting a feasibility study does not make a bad idea into a good one. "Storing nuclear waste on a low lying coral atoll in a region prone to cyclones and considered the most vulnerable to climate change is not solving the world's nuclear was problem," she said.

The Marshall Islands is the only county in the region that has not signed the Waigani Convention that bans the import of radioactive waste into Pacific Islands countries.

The Marshalls government has responded to regional and local opposition by giving assurances that a...

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Wed
28
May
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PNG DEFENSE FORCE RUNNING OUT OF FOOD

PORT MORESBY --The Papua New Guinea Defense Force is facing a critical shortage of food as a result of its continuing serious funding problems.

Defense Force authorities told a media briefing Friday the force currently cannot provide three meals a day, reports NBC.

The briefing followed a day off given to soldiers at Murray Barracks because there was no food in the barracks mess. Staff of the Defense Department have requested and are waiting for extra funds to be released from the Finance Department.

Only last week Acting Finance Secretary Issac Lupari, while saying Papua New Guinea economic growth has improved, admitted the Sandline payout of some K20 million ($US14.6m) has created some cash problems for all government departments.

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Wed
28
May
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AIRCRAFT CARRIER MIDWAY AVAILABLE

HONOLULU --The US Navy wants to give away an inactive aircraft carrier, one named after a Pacific atoll and a famous World War II naval battle.

The former USS Midway, now part of the Navy's mothball fleet in Bremerton, Washington, is available as a donation. Eligible recipients include any US state, possession, municipal government, or non-profit entity, include American Samoa, Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and, possibly, Midway itself.

The recipient of the aircraft carrier will be required to maintain the ship as a

non-moving museum or memorial.

Midway Atoll, scene of a decisive 1942 US naval victory in the war against Japan, is located about 11-hundred miles west-northwest of Honolulu. It's now a wildlife refuge operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Limited numbers of visitors to the atoll, known for its albatrosses or "gooney birds," are permitted.

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Wed
28
May
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WESTERN SAMOA PASSPORT SCANDAL

APIA --A leaked parliamentary bill shows the Western Samoan government had planned to sell citizenship papers from as early as 1994.

The Samoa Observer newspaper reports that under Article 19 of the Foreign Investment Bill drafted that year, Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana was given exclusive power to sell citizenship's, permanent residencies, and temporary permits to foreign investors.

The revelation comes in the wake of a scandal over illegal passport sales in Hong Kong involving tens of thousands of dollars.

The Samoa Observer says that advertisements in Hong Kong newspapers promoting Samoan passports for sale had been done so in anticipation of the 39-page Investment Bill becoming law. But the idea was shelved when knowledge of the passport scam became public.

Since the controversy began last month, the normally ebullient Alesana, who holds the immigration portfolio, has continually refused to comment on the issue, fueling public speculation as to...

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Wed
28
May
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JAPAN REQUESTS FSM TOURISM PROPOSALS

The Federated States of Micronesia has been invited by Japan to request grant funds for tourism infrastructure improvements, including airport expansion.

During this month's Second Japan-FSM Roundtable Talks in Tokyo, FSM Secretary of External Affairs Asterio Takesy was encouraged by Japan's Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda to submit funding proposals that would permit one of the FSM airports to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft. The funds would be used to rebuild and lengthen the chosen airport's runway and to make terminal improvements.

The goal of the aid project would be to improve FSM earnings from tourism.

Expected to vigorously compete for the Japanese funding are the airports serving the states of Pohnpei and Chuuk. Pohnpei offers tourists the ruins of Nan Madol, while Chuuk contains the remains of dozens of World War Two ships and planes in a lagoon popular with divers.

Other matters discussed during the Tokyo talks included the further...

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Wed
28
May
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AUSTRALIA STILL HOLDING ON TO PNG ARMS SHIPMENT

CANBERRA --Australia says it is still holding an arms shipment that was originally bound for Papua New Guinea for use by foreign mercenaries against the Bougainville secessionists.

The arms shipment includes four Russian-built helicopters, rocket launchers, high explosive rockets, and a huge quantity of ammunition.

A Russian transport aircraft carrying the weaponry was diverted to the Australian Airforce base at Tindal, south of Darwin, on March 27 at the request of the PNG government. At the time it was considered unsafe for the aircraft to land in Port Moresby because of unrest in the capital over the government's mercenary contract with the British-based Sandline International.

The chief spokesman for the Australian Defense Force, Brigadier Paul Tys, said Tuesday the issue of ownership of the arms shipment was a matter to be resolved by the PNG government and the Sandline company. Brigadier Tys said the equipment was still in the state in which it was...

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Wed
28
May
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FSM PRESIDENT PROPOSES COMPACT NEGOTIATION COMMITTEE

In the Federated States of Micronesia, President Jacob Nena has proposed that the FSM Congress establish a six-member special committee to prepare the case for extension of the US-FSM Compact of Free Association.

The Compact, which provides the FSM with assistance funding from Washington totaling more than US$1.3 billion over 15 years, will terminate in the year 2001. Negotiations to consider Compact renewal options, however, already are scheduled to take place between the United States and the FSM beginning in 1999.

In draft legislation submitted to the FSM Congress, President Nena has proposed that the special Joint Committee on Compact Negotiation be made up of one representative each from the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the four FSM states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap.

Earlier this month he vetoed a Congressional Act that would have established a nine-member committee, including four members of Congress.

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Wed
28
May
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FRENCH POLYNESIA'S PRO-INDEPENDENCE RADIO PLANS EXPANSION

The director of French Polynesia's pro-independence radio network, Victor Maamaatua, is visiting two atolls in the Tuamotu island group this week, to arrange for a further expansion of Te Reo O Tefana's FM broadcast capabilities.

The Voice of Tefana now serves the highly populated Society Islands with four stations, which are located on Tahiti, Bora Bora, Raiatea, and Huahine. The fifth station, according to Maamaatua, is likely to be built on either Makatea or Tuniau in the Tuamotu Archipelago, depending on which atoll offers the best transmission relay site.

Maamaatua says expanding radio services to the less populated and widely scattered Tuamotus will benefit pro-independence efforts, by providing an alternative radio voice to the pro-French government stations already in operation there.

In the election of two French Polynesian deputies to the French National Assembly May 17, pro-independence candidates came in second to pro-French candidates in both the...

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