NEW CALEDONIA'S PRESIDENT TO RAISE SECURITY ISSUES IN PARIS

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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (Oct. 31, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---New Caledonia's President Pierre Frogier is in Paris this week to attend the French National Assembly's debates, but also to raise security issues during talks scheduled with Justice Minister Dominique Perben, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

Frogier intends to raise the question of New Caledonia's only prison center, in Nouville (Nouméa), with Perben, a former French minister for Overseas Territories under a previous government in the early 1990s.

New Caledonia's prison is believed to be understaffed, "way under French national standards per prisoner," Frogier argues, and it’s in need of renovation.

Frogier also wants to convince metropolitan French authorities that there is now a need to build a new, modern prison further outside Nouméa.

New Caledonia's head is also to meet French Home Affairs Minister Nicolas Sarkozy to talk about security, criminality, and law and order in the French Pacific territory.

"Delinquency levels have been a growing concern for the past two or three yea," Frogier said.

He added police in Nouméa are also understaffed.

"There is a real motivation and organization problem," he said, adding he would ask French authorities to send an assessment team to New Caledonia "so they can make the right decisions so that the population is appeased and so that the level of criminality goes down rapidly."

During his stay in Paris this week and the next, Frogier is also scheduled to meet French Overseas Minister Brigitte Girardin and French Media Council President Dominique Baudis to "clarify a number of points on the relationship between New Caledonia's territorial government and this institution."

Frogier will also chair his first meeting of a parliamentary informal committee called "France-Australia Friendship," which focuses on French and Australian areas of mutual interest.

This group is believed to currently be working on the proposed schedule for the French president's visit in the Pacific at an unspecified date next year.

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