17 Jul 2014

Valls says New Caledonia a priority

3:48 pm on 17 July 2014

The French prime minister says New Caledonia's political future is a priority as the decolonisation process under the Noumea Accord nears its end.

Manuel Valls says he is keen to have a peaceful dialogue among the Accord's three partners, which are the pro- and anti-independence sides and the French state.

Following last May's territorial election, the new Congress is tasked with organising an independence referendum by 2018.

Mr Valls says Paris will be an active partner, announcing the sending of two experts to listen, analyse and advise.

The two are Alain Christnacht and Jean-Francois Merle who played key roles in drawing up the 1998 Noumea Accord and the 1988 Matignon Accords.

Mr Valls has also announced that he will chair a meeting of the signatories of the Noumea Accord in Paris at the end of September or beginning of October.

He says the meeting will also be prepared by the overseas minister, George Pau-Langevin, who is due in New Caledonia on Friday.