31 Jul 2009

French summit in New Caledonia concludes amid tight security

6:17 pm on 31 July 2009

The third French summit with Pacific leaders has been concluded in New Caledonia amid expressions of shared concern over the effects of climate change.

Tight security was in place as disgruntled unionists have been clashing with riot police in several places around the greater Noumea area for days.

Walter Zweifel reports from Noumea.

"The summit host, the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, viewed the close talks as an amicable exchange of views on problems facing all countries irrespective of size. The urgency created by climate change and the global economic crisis were discussed and of concern to island countries remains the threat to their fisheries. The international response to the entrenchment of the Fiji military regime was also raised as many of the leaders present in Noumea will now head to next week's Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Australia. New Caledonia's pro-independence camp has taken a dim view of the French stance in the region, labelling the summit a staged farce. Dissenters have been kept at bay with hundreds of heavily armed police engaging striking unionist city-wide as blockades continue to go up."