The French interior minister Gerald Darmanin has held a day of meetings with the leaders of New Caledonia's political parties on the territory's future.
The meetings with various pro-independence parties were the first top-level contact between them and Paris since last December's referendum when full sovereignty was rejected.
That vote was boycotted by the pro-independence camp, which refuses to recognise its outcome, describing it as a humiliation of the Kanak people.
The vice-president of the pro-independence Caledonian Union, Gilbert Tyuienon, said he was surprised the minister accepted the party's suggestion for formal bilateral talks to be started next year once the parties making up the FLNKS movement have held their congress.
The Caledonian Union wants to discuss the decolonisation process and establish a timetable to attain independence by 2025.
There has been no comment from Darmanin about the talks.
Earlier, the minister met the leaders of the various anti-independence parties who have urged him to advance the reintegration of New Caledonia into France.
On arrival in Noumea for his week-long visit, Darmanin said a choice was made to stay in the French Republic and it must be respected.