26 Aug 2011

Sarkozy arrives in New Caledonia

11:58 am on 26 August 2011

The French president Nicolas Sarkozy has arrived in New Caledonia on his first presidential visit to the Pacific.

Mr Sarkozy, who arrived after a brief stop-over in China, is accompanied by government ministers and sport personalities.

He is due to open the Pacific Games tomorrow and also meet the territory's political leaders.

Security is tight for the visit, during which he is expected to engage with local politicians as the territory is to agree on a way forward once the Noumea Accord on greater autonomy expires.

The decolonisation process has this year come unstuck over the choice of flag, triggering the collapse of four collegial governments.

Security will also be on the agenda after a rise in crime this year amid widespread unease over the high cost of living.

Schools ahve been closed and public servants have been given today off to mark the visit.