11 May 2004

French Minister says talks over Noumea Accord will continue

10:16 am on 11 May 2004

The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, says her government will continue to have a dialogue with all New Caledonians to implement the 1998 Noumea accord on greater autonomy.

She issued a statement after the weekend provincial election which saw the pro- and anti-independence signatories of the accord suffer losses.

Mrs Girardin says the number of seats won by parties in favour of the territory remaining with France has increased by 16 percent.

She says while the separatists have lost reperesentation in the southern province, the pro-independence president of the mainly Kanak northern province, Paul Neaoutyne, has emerged strengthened.