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PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (January 31, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---Madeira's government President Dr. Alberto João Jardim has concluded a Pacific tour with a visit to the French Pacific territory of French Polynesia, the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reports.

He was received with honors by local President Gaston Flosse.

The two heads of governments told local media that both French Polynesia and Madeira (an Atlantic island territory affiliated with Portugal) had much to share in terms of political status, an economy strongly oriented toward tourism and a number of special agricultural products.

Both leaders also enjoy a reputation for being outspoken and relentless advocates of their territories' respective interests to both their metropolitan powers and the European Union.

Both Madeira and French Polynesian's institutions also have much in common, with a local parliament and a local government.

Although its two mostly spoken languages are Portuguese (official) and English (widely spoken), Madeira also has a strong French-speaking community.

Referring to these common points, Jardim officially invited Flosse and French Polynesia at large to join the club of "peripheral countries and territories," a partnership status granted by the European Union to privileged small countries or territories.

"We'd have much pleasure in seeing your territory joining the European Union (under this status), Jardim told Flosse.

Presidents of the seven peripheral regions meet annually to decide on positions with regard to the EU.

"French Polynesia's entry into this assembly would undoubtedly reinforce our position within the EU".

The head of government earlier this week was on an official tour in Australia, where he met members of the 50,000-strong Madeira community residing in Sydney.

While in French Polynesia, on what is referred to as a "private trip," Jardim will spent the rest of his time on idyllic Bora-Bora atoll.

He heads a delegation consisting of a dozen Madeira business and political leaders.

Madeira, dubbed "Atlantic's Garden," is a Portuguese Atlantic Ocean island territory about 500 kilometers (300 miles) off Morocco (Africa). It has an autonomous status as a region of Portugal. Its populated is about 300,000 and its most renowned product is the wine named after the island.

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