17 Jul 2009

France snubs Fiji by not inviting Suva regime to Noumea summit

11:15 am on 17 July 2009

France has snubbed Fiji by not inviting its interim regime to this month's summit with Pacific leaders in New Caledonia.

The summit will be the third in six years and will this year be chaired by the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, standing in for Nicolas Sarkozy who was earlier expected to be the host.

When France held the inaugural gathering in French Polynesia in 2003, a plane was dispatched from Tahiti to Suva to pick up the Fiji prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, for the day.

The New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, is likely to miss the Noumea summit because of a conflict of dates, with the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group due to meet in London at the same time to consider Fiji's full suspension.

Fiji has already been suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum over the interim regime's refusal to relinquish power this year by holding an election three years after the last coup.

Among those expected to attend the Noumea summit will be the French Polynesian youth and sports minister, Tauhiti Nena, as reportedly suggested by the territory's president, Oscar Temaru.