4 Mar 2006

New Caledonia bids for Forum associate membership

9:12 am on 4 March 2006

The government of New Caledonia has decided to request the Pacific Islands Forum to grant the territory the status of associate membership.

The news agency, Oceania Flash, says the decision was reached in Noumea after the French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, approved the bid.

New Caledonia became a Forum observer in 1999.

Last year, the Forum created the associated member categories for the region's non-sovereign territories.

French Polynesia has been a Forum observer since 2004.

In 2003, France asked Pacific leaders to admit its two main Pacific territories as full members - a category open only to independent countries.