7 Feb 2008

French minister in costly mission over New Caledonia reef bid

3:53 pm on 7 February 2008

The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, has apologised for the huge bill incurred to fly to the US for him to submit a bid for New Caledonia's reef to be made a Unesco World Heritage site.

Mr Estrosi confirmed that it cost 200'000 US dollars to take a private jet to Washington last month.

He says he would have declined the flight if he had been told in advance of the cost.

According to reports in the Canard Enchaine newspaper, Mr Estrosi changed his mind at the last moment to attend a gathering of Sarkozy supporters.