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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (October 14, 1999 – Radio Australia)---The independence movement in French Polynesia has dismissed as irrelevant, the French Senate's approval of more autonomy for the territory.

(See: French Senate Endorses Crucial Constitutional Amendment Affecting French Polynesia and New Caledonia)

Under a bill yet to be ratified by a joint session of both houses of the French parliament, Tahiti will be able to pass more local laws and negotiate agreements with other Pacific countries.

But France retains control of such key matters as the money supply, foreign affairs and defense.

Independence movement spokesman Nelson Ortas said full independence is the only viable option.

"During the recent visit of Jean-Jacques Queyranne of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was made quite, quite clear that if at any time the political desires of the Tahitian population was for independence, France would follow that - would respect that.

"So that's quite clear to us, that the only measure necessary would be to win the majority of all the elections that are coming up in the next two years. And that in itself is in line with respecting the democratic desires of any system," Ortas told Radio Australia.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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