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Defense minister hears from visiting Tahiti delegation

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, June 16, 2009)—A delegation of French Polynesia Assembly members met Tuesday in Paris French Defense minister Hervé Morin. The French government is willing to bring some changes to the nuclear compensation bill.

According to the Tahitian delegation, Morin is now committed to bring some important changes to the nuclear compensation bill.

France will pay for the French Polynesia Social security services - CPS, Caisse de Prévoyance Sociale - expenses linked to the medical treatment of former N-test sites' workers.

The area where financial compensation can be claimed for illness due to nuclear tests will also be extended.

It will not cover anymore only the nearby islands of the former French nuclear test sites, Moruroa and Fangataufa, in the Tuamotu archipelago, but also a part of Tahiti's peninsula.

This will be true, however, for the aerial tests period in the 1960's and 1970's.

The delegation headed by Assembly Speaker Philip Schyle includes representatives from all the major tahitian parties, namely Gaston Tong Sang from To Tatou Ai'a party, Maina Sage from Ia Ora Te Fenua but also Maryse Ollivier from Oscar Temaru's Tavini Huiraatira and Edouard Fritch from Gaston Flosse's Tahoeraa huiraatira.

They said they were satisfied with Morin's commitments. The nuclear compensation bill should be introduced in the French Parliament June 25.

France conducted around 200 nuclear tests in Moruroa, in the Tuamotu archipelago, from 1966 to 1996.

"We are going in the right direction", French Polynesia Assembly Speaker Philip Schyle claimed after meeting Morin.

Bruno Sandras, one of Tahiti's two French National Assembly deputies, also said the changes announced were important.

But all these changes still need to be confimed in the Parliament in Paris, Sandras added.

Questions related to environmental impact of nuclear tests should however still be discussed by French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Maryse Ollivier from Oscar Temaru's Tavini Huiraatira claimed.

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