3 Feb 2012

French Polynesia president off island during French ministerial visit

2:25 pm on 3 February 2012

French Polynesia's president, Oscar Temaru, will fly to Australia this weekend on the eve of the arrival of the French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard.

The trip is reportedly linked to invitations Mr Temaru received in connection with the Pacific Islands Forum summit.

It is also tied to efforts to boost tourism, just days after Mr Temaru announced Air Tahiti Nui's bid to join the One World alliance.

Earlier this week, Mr Temaru said he would meet Mrs Penchard only if it happened as an encounter of equals and not a vassal facing a master.

The vice-president, Antony Geros, says he regrets that the meeting won't take place.

He has also expressed surprise that only one hour was set aside in her schedule for a meeting with what he describes as the territory's most important institution.