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NOUMEA, French Caledonia (April 28, 2000 – Radio Australia)---France is expanding its program of military cooperation with Pacific nations.

The commander of French forces in New Caledonia, General Xavier de Zuchowitz, was in Fiji recently to arrange a joint exercise with Fiji’s military forces.

Further exercises are planned with Tonga, New Caledonia and Fiji.

General de Zuchowitz says the exercise is part of France's desire to become more involved in regional affairs.

"I think that now all our neighbors in the Pacific accept that we are (good) neighbors and when they had the problem in Timor, Australia was very happy to see French forces. . . in East Timor.

"All my soldiers had very good contact with Australian, New Zealand and English soldiers and other contingents," General de Zuchowitz said.

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

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