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Marshalls landowners could lose millions in US missile base row

Greenland seeks health check on citizens
Greenland is to ask for health checks on people living where a US nuclear bomb was lost under the ice in the Danish protectorate more than 40 years ago, a senior official said Friday. "It's not a question for us of finding the 'criminal' who lost it ... but of concern for the impact on the health of the Inuits living at Thule," Lars-Emil Johansen told AFP. Johansen is one of Greenland's two top envoys in Denmark and heads the parliamentary commission handling the affairs of the huge ice-covered Arctic island. His comments followed a report this week by the BBC that one of four bombs had never been recovered after a B-52 aircraft crashed at Thule in January 1968. Officials said Tuesday that there was nothing new in the report, based on declassified documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, adding that there had been "no risk" to the environment. But Johansen said, "There were a heap of inquiries into the marine environment, the fish and the mammals, but very little on land among the inhabitants. "It's time to show interest in human beings as well." Johansen, a former head of Greenland's government, said he had expressed his views to Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, who had been summoned to respond to the parliamentary commission at a date yet to be fixed.
by Staff Writers
Majuro (AFP) Nov 14, 2008
Traditional landowners at a US missile base in the Marshall Islands stand to lose nearly 21 million dollars if a stalemate over a new lease is not broken by December 17.

Landowners at the Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll in the western Pacific state are locked in a rent row with the US and have refused to accept a US-Marshall Islands government deal to extend the lease for the atoll to 2066.

Rental payments in excess of the existing lease provisions have been placed in an account that has grown to 20.7 million dollars since the new deal was signed in 2004.

The US Congress set a five-year deadline for the Marshall Islands government to secure landowners' backing for the new agreement and this will expire on December 17. If the deal is not ratified by then, the 20.7 million dollars will return to the US Treasury.

Foreign Minister Tony deBrum said on Friday he wanted the Bush administration to give US President-elect Barack Obama's transition team "the opportunity to look at it before the drop dead deadline".

He said delaying the deadline could help resolve the problem.

But US Ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Clyde Bishop, said this week the agreement for use of Kwajalein until 2066 had been approved by both governments and the US government expected the Marshall Islands to abide by its terms.

Bishop confirmed that if the Kwajalein landowners do not agree to a new land use agreement (LUA) by December 17 the funds would return to the US Treasury.

In the 2004 agreement, the annual rent for Kwajalein increased from about 11 million dollars to 15 million dollars but landowners are demanding 19 million dollars.

Meanwhile inflation adjustments have increased the annual US rent to more than 17 million dollars this year, Bishop said.

DeBrum said he would travel to Washington later this month to see what the US Congress could do on the Kwajalein issue.

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Russia could ditch Kaliningrad missile plan, Medvedev tells paper
Moscow (AFP) Nov 13, 2008
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told a French newspaper Thursday that Russia would drop plans to place missiles in Kaliningrad if the United States dropped its missile shield plans.

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