9 Jul 2010

French PM to visit New Caledonia next week

3:09 pm on 9 July 2010

France has confirmed that the prime minister, Francois Fillon, will make an official three-day visit to New Caledonia at the end of next week.

Mr Fillon will arrive in Noumea after a visit ot Tokyo where is due to meet the Japanese prime minister, Naoto Kan.

In New Caledonia, there was an expectation that a visit was imminent after Noumea's daily newspaper reported that large military aircraft with French officials had arrived as an advance party.

The paper, Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, says it is believed the visit will be used for Mr Fillon to hoist the flag of New Caledonia's pro-independence FLNKS movement next to the French flag on the French high commission.

Last month, he chaired follow-up talks on the 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy with all of New Caledonia's key leaders as the territory gears up for a possible vote on independence after 2014.