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AFP Reporter Barred From Pacific Forum Summit

HONG KONG, Sept 5 (AFP) - Kiribati authorities Tuesday barred an Agence France-Presse correspondent from covering the 16-nation Pacific Forum summit to be held next month in the central Pacific state.

AFP's New Zealand and Pacific correspondent Michael Field has covered 10 of the summits and had sought accreditation for October's forum in Kiribati.

Last year, however, he visited Kiribati and wrote of the extensive pollution, sewage and litter on the main island of Tarawa, where the forum will be held.

A report on a Chinese satellite monitoring base on Tarawa, little known outside the region, also apparently upset the government.

Subsequently Kiribati declared Field an "undesirable immigrant" and a request that he be allowed to cover the Pacific Forum was rejected by Pacific Forum media coordinator Rikiaua Takeke on Tuesday.

The forum has previously never banned any journalist from covering it.

This year's forum is tipped as being crucial for the organisation's future in the wake of coups in Fiji and the Solomons, both member countries.

AFP regional director for Asia-Pacific Pierre Lesourd condemned the ban on Field as "totally unjustified" and urged the Kiribati authorities to lift the restriction.

Pacific Media Watch Online: http://www.pmw.c2o.org

Media Watch at: E-mail: niusedita@pactok.net.au or: bfmedia@mpx.com.au Fax: (+679) 30 5779 or (+612) 9660 1804 Mail: PO Box 9, Annandale, NSW 2038, Australia or, c/o Journalism, PO Box 1168, Suva, Fiji New website: http://www.pmw.c2o.org

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