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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, Dec. 21) – For the first time in sixteen years, a French High Commissioner has paid an official visit to the current President Oscar Temaru's town of Faa'a (in the outskirts of the capital Pape'ete).

Anne Boquet, who became France's High commissioner in French Polynesia early September, received an official and lavish welcome, high in traditions such as dances and a kava drinking ceremony, Temaru's office said in a release.

Under the rule of previous pro-French local administration for this French Pacific country, Faa'a had always been regarded as a pro-independence stronghold.

Temaru, who is also the Mayor of Faa'a, said Mrs Boquet's visit, which took place on Tuesday (Monday Tahiti time) has been "extremely positive" and has shown that "there is a will to overcome past antagonism".

Temaru expressed confidence that new French-funded infrastructure projects would take place in the near future, such as waste management, social housing and water supply.

"These projects faced difficulties in the past, coming from a town which did not belong to the majority at the time", Temaru said in a release.

During her visit to Faa'a (which is also French Polynesia's most populated commune, after Pape'ete), Boquet also officially opened a new building, 60 percent funded by France for a total of close to US$1 million.

The building is supposed to serve as a shelter for outrigger canoes.

Temaru said also that contrary to a more radical and militant practice in the past, French emblems and symbols, such as the statue of Marianne (an woman supposed to symbolise the French Republic) were now back in the town hall.

December 22, 2005

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