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Kiribati president opens first mission - in Fiji

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By AKKA RIMON: March 11, 2002
Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA: More than 500 people, heads of state, ministers, government officials and members of the diplomatic corps were present during the inauguration of Kiribati's first resident mission and first Chancery overseas — in Suva last Friday evening.

The establishment of the mission has long been overdue, according to President Teburoro Tito.

"This delay was due in part to other competing government developmental priorities and the government's preoccupation with many critical problems at home," President Tito said.

The President was grateful that the Kiribati High Commission was finally a reality.

"We have now finally made it. Thanks to the many signals from the outside world such as climate change and global warming, the Asian financial crises and international terrorism impacting on the day to day life of our people and reminding us that we were no longer an isolated island in the ocean but an integral part of such events and challenges," said President Tito.

"These helped to convince us that going out into the world was just as basic as going to the bush to plant coconuts or going to the sea to catch fish for our survival and development," he added.

President Tito stressed that it is about time that Kiribati entered a new frontier.

He was pleased that Fiji was chosen over other countries partly because it has the highest number of resident I-Kiribati and part Kiribati people. It is also because a significantly large proportion of KIribati's manpower training and trading is done in Fiji.

Another important factor that President Tito highlighted was Fiji's strategic advantage as the main hub for various regional and international organisations and agencies.

President Tito assured Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase that the establishment of the mission will bring the two countries closer.

"I know that the establishment of this mission will bring our two peoples closer together through the promotion of friendly relations, better understanding and improved representation in the broad aspects of political, economic and socio-cultural developments.

The first part of the ceremony rounded off with the unveiling of the plaque by President Tito and Prime MInister Qarase and their wives. They led the first tour of the high commission and had their official photographs taken.

The ceremony continued to its second phase with the reception at Holiday Inn, in downtown Suva.

President Tito will be leaving for Rabi Island on Monday with his ministerial team where they will conduct an update on the affairs and developments of the Kiribati government. It will also provide the Banaban people on Rabi, a platform to voice their views.

The president has just recently returned from touring the Kiribati islands in the Line and Phoenix group and is yet to tour several remaining islands before the Kiribati elections later this year.


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