Visit to Australia by New Caledonian delegation
9 March 2010
Today I met a high level delegation from New Caledonia in Canberra.
It included the French High Commissioner in New Caledonia, Mr Yves Dassonville, the President of the Government of New Caledonia, Mr Philippe Gomès, the President of the Congress, Mr Harold Martin, and the Presidents of all three of New Caledonia’s provinces.
The delegation is visiting Australia until 12 March.
The visit is a historic one.
It is the first time that representatives of all New Caledonia’s governing institutions have visited Australia at the same time.
New Caledonia is one of Australia’s closest neighbours. The bilateral relationship is friendly and growing, supported by Australia’s warm relationship with France.
During our meeting, we discussed closer regional integration and New Caledonia’s interest in greater participation in the Pacific Islands Forum.
We agreed to schedule bilateral officials-level talks in October 2010 in Noumea, and expressed our mutual hope that new discussions on bilateral air services arrangements could commence before the end of this year.
We were pleased to note that the directors of the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea had met earlier today to discuss an agreement on closer cooperation between the two institutions.
When the delegation meets the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts tomorrow, he will sign on behalf of Australia a letter of intent to enhance cooperation with New Caledonia on sustainable management of the Coral Sea, which is bordered by both Australia and New Caledonia.
In the presence of President Gomès, Attorney General Robert McClelland and High Commissioner Dassonville, will also sign a letter of intent to enhance cooperation between Australia and New Caledonia in the area of emergency management. This agreement will pave the way for mutual assistance in areas such as fire-fighting.
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