27 Jul 2009

Vanuatu's Prime Minister sends Foreign Minister to summit in Noumea

6:08 am on 27 July 2009

A French summit in New Caledonia to discuss regional security is failing to secure the attendance of the most senior regional politicians.

The foreign minister of Vanuatu, Joe Natuman, is now scheduled to fly to Noumea to represent the head of government, Edward Natapei, while France is still to say who will host the summit.

Mr Natapei says he won't go because he was invited by the French President, who is not going.

Meanwhile, Paris claims that Mr Sarkozy's first visit to the Pacific had never been officially confirmed.

The foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who was to stand in as host, is now also uncertain to assume the chairmanship.

However, the new junior minister in charge of overseas territories, Marie-Luce Penchard, will be in Noumea as part of a familiarisation tour linked to her new portfolio.

New Zealand will send its defence minister, Wayne Mapp.

Fiji has not been invited.