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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (May 20, 2002 – Radio Australia)---New Caledonia is keen to form more economic, social and political alliances with Pacific countries.

The "collaborator" for the New Caledonian administration, Charles Wea, says it is time the French territory explored expanded relations with countries close to it, rather than just those far away.

After attending a United Nations Decolonization meeting in Fiji last week, Mr. Wea concluded that New Caledonia had a lot to offer Pacific nations.

He said this was because of New Caledonia's highly developed economy and rich mineral resources, particularly nickel.

Mr. Wea said that forming alliances with regional organizations such as the Pacific Islands Forum and the Melanesian Spearhead Group is an important part of New Caledonia's international policy.

New Caledonia was admitted as an observer to the Pacific Islands Forum summit of leaders two years ago.

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

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