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Marles first Australian member of parliament to visit

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Aug. 1, 2011) - Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles recently became the first Australian Member of Parliament to visit the French Pacific collectivity of Wallis and Futuna.

The volcanic tropical islands of Wallis and Futuna are located to the west of Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean and are home to an estimated population of 15,000.

Marles joined the people of Wallis and Futuna as they celebrated, last week, the 50th anniversary of the statute that made Wallis and Futuna a French territory, at a ceremony in the capital Mata‘Utu with the King of Uvea (Wallis Island), Kapiliele Faupala.

He also met the French Minister for Overseas Territories, Marie-Luce Penchard, and the Senior Administrator of Wallis and Futuna, Michel Jeanjean.

Marles and Penchard discussed Australia’s relationship with France and regional cooperation in the Pacific.

"Australia and France have a strong relationship and common goals for the Pacific of long-term stability, economic growth and development," Marles said.

"We will continue working closely together in the region, including by responding to humanitarian emergencies and helping Pacific countries to protect their vital fisheries resources," he said.

Marles has now visited all three of France’s collectivities in the Pacific. He visited New Caledonia in October 2010 and French Polynesia in March 2011.

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