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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (Oceania Flash, April 26) – Civilian and military officials in New Caledonia on Monday paid homage to Australians and New Zealanders who fought and died during last century's global conflicts.

French government representatives and local government President Marie-Noëlle Thémereau joined Australia and New Zealand representatives, as well as top military officials, to lay wreaths at the Nouméa War Memorial during a dawn ceremony.

In New Caledonia, local veterans associations also stressed that Australia's and New Zealand's presence was especially felt during world War II, when U.S. soldiers engaged in the Pacific War, but also ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers, were stationed in the French Pacific territory between 1942 and 1945.

"If it had not been for them, who came to defend us, I wouldn't be here speaking to you today," a spokesman from the local veterans' association told local television RFO.

About fifteen New Zealand World War II veterans travelled to New Caledonia to take part in the ceremonies.

April 27, 2005

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