PACIFIC FORUM REJECTS NEW CALEDONIA BID

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French territories sought full membership

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 5, 2010) – New Caledonia and French Polynesia have expressed disappointment at not being allowed to take part in the Pacific Islands Forum annual summit.

The regional 16 country organisation has been holding its yearly summit in Vanuatu.

This year, the two French Pacific territories had wanted the "associate" membership status they have enjoyed since 2006 to be upgraded, so they could take part in the Pacific leaders' meeting - but that's been turned down.

Leaders attending the Forum say New Caledonia and French Polynesia need more dialogue with France, before they can become full Forum members.

In the final communique issued at the Forum's annual meeting in Port Vila, the regional body said several issues relating to the territories' international standing need to be resolved.

French Polynesia's Vice-President Edouard Fritch issued a statement in Port Vila saying he regretted what he called the two territories' "isolation".

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