Tahiti's Forum bid gaining traction

6:46 pm on 15 August 2016

Reports from French Polynesia say Fiji has confirmed that Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers are in support of the French territory becoming a full member despite it not being independendent.

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Photo: RNZ

New Zealand and Australia had earlier expressed their support for the two main French territories in the Pacific being given full membership in line with the aspirations of Paris to integrate them into the regional architecture.

The public broadcaster in Tahiti said Fiji's foreign minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola gave the assurance to French Polynesia's president Edouard Fritch after last week's Forum foreign ministers meeting in Suva.

Left to right: PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, President of French Polynesia Édouard Fritch and Vanuatu Foreign Minister Lenkon Tao Bruno

Left to right: PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, President of French Polynesia Édouard Fritch and Vanuatu Foreign Minister Lenkon Tao Bruno Photo: Presidency of French Polynesia

The issue was expected to be raised at next month's Forum summit in the Federated States of Micronesia.

French Polynesia and New Caledonia are on the UN decolonisation list, but both Mr Fritch and the French government were strongly opposed to a challenge of French Polynesia's status as a French territory.

Paris described French Polynesia's re-listing in 2013 as a glaring interference by the United Nations.

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Photo: RNZI Walter Zweifel

The French territories' inclusion in the Forum was first proposed in 2003 when the then President Jacques Chirac hosted Pacific leaders in Tahiti.

French Polynesia and New Caledonia, which became associate Forum members in 2006, have been lobbying for full membership for several years.

Meanwhile Wallis and Futuna, another French territory in the Pacific, is a Forum observer.

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