The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has confirmed that France will accompany New Caledonia on its decolonisation path until the chosen process has been concluded.
Mr Sarkozy made the statement in Paris after meeting New Caledonian leaders who had completed the latest round of follow-up talks on New Caledonia's 1998 Noumea accord on greater autonomy.
He says he is pleased that meeting, chaired by the French prime minister, Francois Fillon, supported the second installment of the phased and irreversible transfers of power from Paris to New Caledonia.
The accord specifies that New Caledonia will hold a vote on self-determination between 2014 and 2018.
Mr Sarkozy told the New Caledonian delegates that they will be making their decision in peace and on the strength of their convictions.
He says the vote won't be held in an environment of violence in which one doesn't choose but is made to submit.