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France ‘open to resettlement requests from South Pacific islands’

FRENCH Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna is open to any resettlement request from tiny South Pacific nations threatened by rising sea levels, she said today.

She said France had paid “great interest” last month when Australia offered to help Tuvalu residents escape the rising seas and increased storms brought by climate change.

At a meeting of Pacific leaders in the Cook Islands on November 10, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a plan that would initially allow up to 280 Tuvaluans to come to his country each year as part of a treaty cementing military ties.

Tuvalu has a population of 11,000, and its low-lying atolls make it particularly vulnerable to global warming.

Ms Colonna said she was not sure whether the French Pacific territories of French Polynesia and New Caledonia had the capacity to make similar offers.

“I’m open to consider any specific request,” Ms Colonna told the National Press Club of Australia.

“But … the size of the Australian continent makes a big difference with the size and beauties of French Polynesia and New Caledonia.”

The treaty commits Australia to assist Tuvalu in responding to major natural disasters, health pandemics and military aggression, Mr Albanese said.

It also allows Australia to veto any security or defence-related agreement between Tuvalu and another country, such as China.

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