31 Jul 2009

French Foreign Minister hosts New Caledonia summmit with Pacific leaders

12:39 pm on 31 July 2009

The French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, is today hosting the third French summit with Pacific leaders, held in New Caledonia for the first time.

The one-day meeting will focus on security, development and environment issues and comes a week before the Pacific Islands Forum in Australia.

From Noumea, Walter Zweifel reports.

"Mr Kouchner is in Noumea for two days to host regional delegations that include Micronesian presidents, Polynesian prime ministers and Melanesian foreign ministers. Not invited is Fiji's interim regime. The three-yearly event is also aimed at deepening the three French Pacific territories' ties with the region. Today's summit has been downgraded by Paris and it only named a host three days ago after Nicolas Sarkozy abandoned his planned Pacific trip that was to include a stop in Australia. Security is tight in Noumea after days of police action to sweep aside Kanak union protestors seeking the release of their jailed leader. But several union blockades of key suppliers remain, alarming the business community and affecting the building industry. In Noumea, I'm Walter Zweifel."