5 Jul 2011

New Caledonia leaders in Paris to review Noumea Accord

1:26 pm on 5 July 2011

New Caledonia's signatories of the 1998 Noumea Accord are gearing up for Friday's meeting in Paris to review the accord ahead of it entering its final phase in 2014.

The meeting will for the first time include the new political forces which have emerged in the past 13 years, such as the Caledonia Together Party of Philippe Gomes.

The talks, which are expected to be chaired by the French prime minister, Francois Fillon, will cover mining and industrial policy as well as institutional changes linked to the phased and irreversible transfer of power from France to New Caledonia.

It will be the second large scale meeting in a month after talks hosted by Paris in the lead-up to last week's electoral reforms aimed at ending the territory's political crisis.

The Noumea Accord provides for a possible referendum on independence after 2014 but the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has said a consensus should be sought before then to chart the territory's future status.

It is widely believed that a vote would see a majority reject independence.