26 Jun 2006

Leaders gather in Paris for France/Oceania summit

10:08 am on 26 June 2006

Leaders from 16 Pacific nations and territories are gathering in the French capital for a summit to discuss the role Paris can play in enhancing development in the Pacific region.

Issues up for discussions include regional stability, economic development and global warming.

Ben Lowings reports from Paris.

"This is the second France/Oceania summit. The first was held in Tahiti in 2003. President Chirac hopes to demonstrate France's commitment to the Pacific in general. Together with Australia and New Zealand, France has for years helped island countries with relief and recovery supplies after cyclone disasters and has long been fighting illegal fishing by patrolling exclusive economic zones. French experts have worked in the Pacific on a Tsunami warning system. Mr Chriac is himself close to the former French Polynesian president, Gaston Flosse, but has not met his successor, Oscar Temaru, who favours independence in free association with France. Mr Chirac has recently called for a reassessment of how French school children are taught about the country's colonial past. Mr Chirac leaves office next year and is likely to be thinking about his political legacy."

The Prime Minister of Samoa is one of those attending the summit.

During the meeting, it's thought that Tuila'epa will follow up the French government's offer of assistance to help Samoa connect to the under-water fiber optic communication link.