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Third France-Oceania summit held in New Caledonia
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16:16, July 31, 2009

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The Third France-Oceania summit was held in the New Caledonia capital city of Noumea on Friday.

The one-day meeting, hosted by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, focused on security, development and environment issues and came a week before the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Caines, Australia.

The France-Oceania summit was also aimed at strengthening ties between France, its three Pacific territories (New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna) and the Pacific Islands Forum, in what was recurrently described as a process of "regional integration."

But the summit agenda has been overshadowed by protocol issues usually vital to France's projection of its image in the region. The French indecision on who would chair the meeting has led to only five heads of government turning up with Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands sending officials to discuss co-operation, security matters and environmental issues, Radio New Zealand International reported on Friday.

The summit has been boycotted and denounced by the pro-independence Caledonia Union party while strikes, blockades and intermittent clashes hamper the lives of many outside the zone cordoned off for the gathering.

The France-Oceania Summit is held every three years, with previous summits held in Paris (2006) and Papeete (2003).

Source: Xinhua

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