June 26, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. ---- FALEOMAVAEGA INVITED TO FRENCH POLYNESIA FOR AUTONOMY DAY CELEBRATIONS
Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he received an invitation from the President of French Polynesia, His Excellency Gaston Flosse, to attend as a special guest this year's celebration of Autonomy Day.
"I appreciate very much President Flosse's invitation to attend this special event, which has commenced on June 29th each year since 1984, when the French government granted more self-autonomy to the territorial government of French Polynesia," said Faleomavaega.
"Furthermore, although President Flosse and I have had our differences of opinion over nuclear testing in the Pacific, I do have the highest respect for him as the duly elected President of French Polynesia. While in Tahiti, it is my intention to discuss with President Flosse and French government officials the controversial conclusions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) study on French nuclear testing at Moruroa and Fangataufa Atolls."
"After 30 years of French testing involving 178 nuclear detonations," noted the Congressman, "it is difficult to believe that radioactivity on the atolls does not present a danger to humans, animals and plants. I sincerely hope I have a chance to visit Moruroa Atoll again, this time under more friendly circumstances."
"Another important issue I want to pursue with President Flosse is the latest development with New Caledonia's quest for greater autonomy from French rule through the Noumea Accord. The Noumea Accord, I am certain, will have serious implications for not only New Caledonia, but Tahiti and other French Pacific possessions, including Wallace and Futuna Islands, which are only 300 miles north of Samoa," continued Faleomavaega.
"Culturally and historically, the inhabitants of Wallace and Futuna Islands are of both Samoan and Tongan ancestry. For too long, our Polynesian cousins have been separated from us because of European colonial rule. We need to open more lines of communication with them," the Congressman continued.
Faleomavaega thanked the United States Embassy in Paris for making arrangements with the French government for meetings with France's High Commissioner of French Polynesia and main Opposition leader Mayor Oscar Temaru. The State Department is also securing arrangements for the Congressman to travel to Moruroa to inspect French government environmental monitoring programs on the atoll.
Upon departing from French Polynesia, Congressman Faleomavaega will travel to Oceanside, California as the guest of Mayor Lyon of Oceanside. Faleomavaega has been invited by Mayor Lyon to participate in Oceanside's celebration of its Sister City relationship with Pago Pago, which will be held on July 4th. While there, the Congressman looks forward to meeting with the local Samoan community.