FRENCH OVERSEAS MINISTER TO VISIT NEW CALEDONIA

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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (August 31, 1997 - PACNEWS)---The French minister for overseas affairs, Jean-Jacques Queyranne, will arrive in New Caledonia Monday for a one-week inspection tour. It will be his first visit to the French Melanesian territory.

In a Paris radio interview last week, Queyranne said he hoped the people of New Caledonia would cancel the scheduled 1998 referendum on the future political status of New Caledonia and live together within a "larger autonomy" under France.

The people of New Caledonia are scheduled to vote next year in a referendum, under the Matignon Accord, to determine the territory's future political status.

While in New Caledonia, Queyranne will meet with political, union, traditional, and religious leaders.

A primary subject for discussion will be future mining and other business projects, in particular the planned metal processing plant slated to be constructed in the northern part of the territory.

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