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Pacific News Minute: French President Promises to Reconsider Compensation for Nuclear Tests

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

On a quick swing through the Pacific this week, French President Francois Hollande stopped over in Tahiti, where he agreed to reconsider compensation for nuclear tests and in the tiny territory of Wallis and Futuna, where he promised an ATM and dialysis equipment for a local hospital. More from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

On taking office, Francois Hollande promised to visit all of France's overseas territories during his term...with Wallis and Futuna, his pledge is fulfilled.  About 15-thousand people, almost all of them Polynesian, live in three kingdoms in the two island groups.  Hollande visited all three, the first French President in Wallis since Valerie Giscard d'Estaing in 1979, the first ever in Futuna.

France's nuclear legacy was the issue in French Polynesia.  Until 2009, France insisted that 193 nuclear weapons tests on two atolls caused no adverse health effects, and while a law was passed since then to compensate those who suffered from exposure to radiation, nearly all cases were dismissed.  In Tahiti yesterday, President Hollande promised to revise those procedures.  More than 30-thousand in French Polynesia have signed a petition to demand a referendum on reparations.  Next July second marks 50 years since the first French atmospheric weapons test over Muraroa Atoll. 

In addition to Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia, France also administers New Caledonia, where preparations are underway for a referendum on independence in 2018. France continues to press the case that all three of its territories be accepted as full members of the Pacific Islands Forum, which has been reluctant to legitimize what many consider colonies.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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