11 Oct 2012

Paris to hold Noumea Accord follow-up talks in December

12:27 pm on 11 October 2012

The French overseas territories minister, Victorin Lurel, says he will hold the next meeting of the signatories of New Caledonia's 1998 Noumea Accord in about mid-December.

Mr Lurel gave the date to reporters in Paris after saying in July that the regular accord review was to be held before the end of the year.

He says there is a need to find a common flag and name but that won't happen before the 2014 elections.

There has been a heated and unresolved dispute over which flag the territory should choose - an issue that last year prompted four governments to collapse.

Anti-independence politicians have been alarmed that Mr Lurel in July referred to the territory as New Caledonia Kanaky, prompting calls by the president, Harold Martin, to hold a referendum on the name issue.

This year's follow-up talks will look at the progress of the accord, plans for the nickel sector and the future of the territory's institutions.

The 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy, which provides for a phased and irreversible transfer of power from Paris, is to enter its final phase, with a possible independence referendum between 2014 and 2018.