13 Jul 2012

Paris to call Noumea Accord follow-up talks this year

1:32 pm on 13 July 2012

The French overseas territories minister, Victorin Lurel, says he would like to hold the next meeting reviewing New Caledonia's Noumea Accord at the end of this year.

Mr Lurel made the comment in response to a question by a New Caledonian member of the French senate and is in line with a request by the territory's newly elected members of the French National Assembly.

The 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy, which provides for a phased and irreversible transfer of power from Paris, is to enter its final phase, with a possible independence referendum between 2014 and 2018.

Mr Lurel says the French state will listen as an impartial partner and focus on the Accord only.

The territory's public debate and the recent election campaign have highlighted the as yet unresolved dispute over which flag the territory should choose - an issue that last year prompted four governments to collapse.

The pro-independence politician and Congress president, Roch Wamytan, says a commission will be set up within weeks to discuss the flag issue.