FRANCE, NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA CELEBRATE 10 YEARS OF "FRANZ"

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WELLINGTON,New Zealand (Oceania Flash) - The three parties to a so-called "FRANZ" emergency relief scheme, France, New Zealand and Australia, on Monday celebrated the tenth anniversary of the pact.

The pact is designed to better co-ordinate relief operations in the Pacific in case of natural or man-made disaster, Radio New Zealand International reports.

The ceremony was attended by officials and military officers from the three countries, including French High Commissioner in New Caledonia, Daniel Constantin.

The FRANZ scheme primarily involves military forces of the three powers: it places an emphasis on better co-ordination and networking between armed forces and military, so as not to duplicate relief and maximize impact in the affected areas.

One of the main issues FRANZ was initially designed to address was such natural disasters as cyclones or earthquakes.

The latest occurrence was on New Year's Day 2002, when cyclone Waka struck the Tongan Northern island of Vava'u, causing significant damage to the infrastructures.

Meanwhile New Caledonia-based French, Australian and New Zealand are increasing joint exercises.

Oceania Flash/SPC E-mail/Courriel : PatrickD@spc.org.fj  ou padec@iname.com 

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