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MATU UTU, Wallis and Futuna (May 9, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---The agreement governing future relations between the French territory of Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia now is expected to be finalized by September.

The new deadline was announced by French Overseas Minister Jean-Jacques Queyranne last week.

This specific agreement was supposed to have been signed on March 31, but New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna leaders have not yet come to full agreement.

As a result of the Noumea Accord signed two years ago, New Caledonia’s political status has changed, including being awarded expanded local governance powers and its own citizenship.

Jean-Luc David, editor of the Weekly Te Fenua Fo'ou, said political leaders in Wallis and Futuna are concerned about the impact of these changes. "That means immigration won’t be as easy as it used to be.

"The problem is that there are more Wallis and Futuna citizens living in New Caledonia than in their own islands," David said in an interview with Radio Australia.

He said the big challenge for Wallis and Futuna will be to develop new economic activities to keep the population on the home islands.

He said it will be difficult, since funding will be required to develop new agriculture and fishing ventures.

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

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