NEW CALEDONIA, WALLIS AND FUTUNA AGREE TO REDEFINE TIES

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (June 4, 2001 – Radio New Zealand International)---Negotiators from the two French territories of New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna have agreed on a project to redefine the relationship between the two sides as a result of the signing of the Noumea Accord on greater New Caledonian autonomy.

That document gives New Caledonia officials the power to control immigration but also calls for a separate arrangement to be struck with Wallis and Futuna, which wants to keep open access to New Caledonia for its residents.

Speaking after talks in Nouméa, New Caledonia President Pierre Frogier said Wallis and Futuna needed to be developed economically to slow migration towards New Caledonia.

Following decades of migration, the population of Wallis and Futuna is now 15,000, while the number of migrants and descendants from the two islands living in New Caledonia has risen to 20,000.

Mr. Frogier said it is up to the French state to address the issue, with New Caledonia prepared to make a financial contribution.

Although an agreement was to have been reached by March 2000, he said, more talks are required and any deal will have to be approved by France and the two territories’ assemblies.

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

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