9 May 2005

French Polynesia's President returns after week long visit to France

12:35 pm on 9 May 2005

The French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, is on his way back to Papeete after a week-long official visit to France which he has hailed a success.

In an interview with Tahiti Nui TV in Paris, he said the French government showed a willingness to work with his administration to deal with economic and social challenges.

After meeting the French foreign minister, Mr Temaru said he sought French backing for French Polynesia to become a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum following last year's admission as an observer.

Full Forum membership has only been available for independent countries, but two years ago at a regional summit in Papeete, the French President, Jacques Chirac, pushed for the French territories to be integrated.

At the time, Mr Temaru was in opposition and resisted Mr Chirac's move.

Mr Temaru says he has also sought French support for Tahiti to become an approved tourist destination for Chinese - a status already obtained by the neighbouring Cook Islands and Tonga.

He has also asked for French and European Union support to build an international airport in the Marquesas islands.