A French senator and former defence minister, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, says France needs to consolidate its position in the Pacific because of its strategic importance.
Mr Chevenement made the comment in New Caledonia where he is with a Senate foreign affairs committee delegation following a visit to Australia.
He says at a time when the global equilibrium has changed, France needs to be in the Pacific and Paris needs to shore ups its partnerships with emerging countries, such as China, India, Vietnam and Australia.
In view of the growing Chinese influence in Pacific Island countries, Mr Chevenement has underlined the importance of the continued presence of France on Australia's side.
Referring to New Caledonia's possible independence, he says it is difficult to see how responsibility for defence can be transferred to a community with a population of just a quarter of a million.