26 Aug 2011

Sarkozy reacts to New Caledonia's Mare violence

3:24 pm on 26 August 2011

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, says nothing justifies the violent death of four people on New Caledonia's island of Mare as happened three weeks ago.

Speaking shortly after arriving in Noumea on his first presidential trip to the Pacific, Mr Sarkozy said New Caledonia had already paid a price that was too high for its internal divisions - a reference to the unrest and violence of the 1980s.

He says New Caldonia is now an example of peace, dialogue and respect for differences.

Mr Sarkozy has called on the traditional leaders of Mare to overcome their differences with other means than force.

This month's clashes over air fare hikes involved hundreds of people and left four people shot dead and more than 20 others wounded.

The French president is to meet local political leaders today, and tomorrow he will open the Pacific Games.