27 May 2016

Tahiti says Forum bid on good track

1:35 pm on 27 May 2016
French Polynesian delegation meets French foreign minister Ayrault

French Polynesian delegation meets French foreign minister Ayrault Photo: supplied French Polynesian presidency

French Polynesia's president says his government has secured exemption from the Pacific Islands Forum rules to accept only independent countries as full members.

Edouard Fritch said after meeting the French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, in Paris that South Pacific countries had proposed French Polynesia's full membership.

He said after New Zealand had expressed its support, Australia followed two weeks ago in announcing its backing for French Polynesia and New Caledonia to become full members.

Both territories are on the UN decolonisation list, but both Mr Fritch and the French government are strongly opposed to a challenge of French Polynesia's status as a French territory.

Paris described French Polynesia's re-listing in 2013 as a glaring interference by the United Nations.

The French territories' inclusion in the Forum was first proposed in 2003 when the then President Jacques Chirac hosted Pacific leaders in Tahiti.

French Polynesia and New Caledonia, which became associate Forum members in 2006, have been lobbying for full membership for several years.

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Photo: PIF

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