18 Feb 2020

French PM urged to visit Wallis and Futuna

9:01 am on 18 February 2020

New Caledonia's president has suggested that French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe visit Wallis and Futuna to help frame the relationship between the two French territories.

Aerial of Futuna, Wallis and Futuna, South Pacific, Pacific

Aerial view of Futuna. Photo: Michael Runkel

Mr Santa told the Nouvelles Caledoniennes that the question of how to settle Polynesian migrants from Wallis and Futuna was one of four topics discussed during a weekend meeting with Mr Philippe in Paris.

This comes as New Caledonia is readying for a second referendum on independence from France in September in line with the 1998 Noumea Accord.

In the first plebiscite in 2018 more than 56 percent voted to stay with France.

Mr Santa said he called on Mr Philippe to choose the earliest possible date for a third referendum as not to interfere with France's presidential election in 2022.

He also said he had been encouraged by his discussions in Paris as he was seeking French state guarantees to obtain bank funding to settle debts incurred by the health care system.

Mr Santa has also asked for French help to build a new power plant in Noumea, which is expected to cost about $US600 million.

The parent company of the SLN nickel company, which has been struggling, has declined to join the project although it might be a main beneficiary, he said.

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