26 Jul 2012

New Caledonia and New Zealand eye closer formal links

2:17 pm on 26 July 2012

New Caledonia and New Zealand are keen to deepen economic ties by forging an agreeement similar to the arrangement in place between Wellington and Canberra.

The issue was raised in Noumea during talks between the territory's president, Harold Martin, and the visiting New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully.

Mr Martin says investigation into a formally closer relationship are at an early stage.

He has announced that a special liaison officer has been appointed at the French embassy in Wellington to foster links between New Zealand and New Caledonia.

The territory has been gaining a bigger degree of autonomy in line with the 1998 Noumea Accord overseen by France.

Mr McCully's programme also includes talks with the territorial Congress leadership and a visit to the headquarters of the French armed forces in New Caledonia.

In June last year, Mr McCully already considered a stop-over in New Caledonia but decided against it because a political crisis prompted Congress to have to elect a new government.