19 Sep 2003

Australian foreign minister to visit New Caledonia this year

12:11 pm on 19 September 2003

The New Caledonian government has confirmed that Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, will visit the French territory before the end of the year.

The president of the New Caledonian government, Pierre Frogier, said after his return from Sydney that his own visit with a French parliamentary delegation had gone well and was not affected by recent tension between France and Australia over the Iraq conflict.

Mr Frogier says the French position was known as France has sought to deal with Iraq through the United Nations.

Australia decided to bypass the UN and join the US and Britain for an invasion of Iraq which was alleged to have weapons of mass destruction that threatened the security of the US.

Mr Frogier says Australian leaders understand that New Caledonia is poised for exceptional development in the years to come.

He also says they recognise that the French policy in the Pacific is good because it instills stability.