28 Aug 2008

Paris to step up French Pacific integration process

7:56 pm on 28 August 2008

The French government has indicated it wants to step up what it calls the integration of its three French Pacific territories into the wider Pacific environment.

The integration process began several years ago, most markedly with New Caledonia and French Polynesia becoming associate members of the Pacific Islands Forum.

At last week's Forum summit in Niue, Wallis and Futuna's request for the same status was put on hold for two years.

Oceania Flash reports that earlier this week in Paris, the French Secretary for Overseas Countries and Territories, Yves Jego, spoke of the desire to further strengthen the relationship with the territories' Pacific neighbours.

He says France wants to build on the links already established with more cooperation and a greater involvement in the regional environment.

The Wellington-based French Ambassador Michel Legras called for much more contact with the other countries in the region to ensure people better understand the territories and their aspirations.

France is planning a third France-Oceania summit next year in Noumea with the likelihood that President Nicolas Sarkozy will attend.