27 Jun 2006

France assures Pacific leaders that it will continue to contribute to region

7:26 pm on 27 June 2006

The French government has vowed to continue to contribute to Pacific Islands countries through bilateral agreements and contributions to the European development fund.

For the five years from 2008, the payments are scheduled to rise to nearly 28 million euros a year.

The money is aimed at fulfilling the goals of the Pacific Plan, agreed by Forum countries in Port Moresby last year.

The commitments were reaffirmed by the French President, Jacques Chirac, at the Paris summit with Pacific leaders.

The Forum's chair, Papua New Guinea's prime minister Sir Michael Somare, has praised France's change after its decision to stop using the South Pacific to test its nuclear weapons.

"France's attitude has completely changed in the way the deal with the Pacific islands. And I think there is a good sense of honestness in the dealing with the island people."

Sir Michael Somare