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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (October 4, 2000 – Agence France-Presse)---One of the world's biggest suppliers of a bewilderingly exotic range of telephone sex is hanging-up.

Tuvalu, a Pacific atoll nation north of Fiji, has for the last eight years leased its telephone 688 area code to sex line operators -- despite its avowedly Christian status.

But Prime Minister Ionatana Ionatana told Agence France-Presse (AFP) in a telephone interview Wednesday that they've had enough of it.

"We don't need any more sex calls. That venture continued to damage our reputation on the religious front," he said.

Last year they made around AUS$ 3 million (US$ 1.6 million) on telephone sex.

"This year we are only getting some hundreds of thousands. That is peanuts," Ionatana said.

"These people are selling the service to millions of people around the world and we know for sure they are getting millions of dollars and yet they refuse to produce their accounts to us."

Tuvalu can afford to can the sex now -- the country is making US$ 50 million from selling its Internet domain name, Dot TV.

Michael Field New Zealand/South Pacific Correspondent Agence France-Presse E-mail: afp.nz@clear.net.nz  Phone: (64 21) 688438 Fax: (64 21) 694035 Website: http://www.afp.com/english/ 

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