by Staff Writers
Papeete (AFP) Feb 22, 2016
Compensation for victims of three decades of French nuclear tests was on the agenda Monday as President Francois Hollande visited French Polynesia, his first stop on a tour of the Pacific and Latin America.
Hollande's first move was to lay a wreath at the grave of Pouvanaa a Oopa, the anti-colonialist considered the founder of modern Tahitian political culture.
But the focus of the visit was very much on the victims of 193 nuclear tests carried out by France between 1966 and 1996 on the atolls Mururoa and Fangataufa.
Only around 20 people have received compensation for the spread of cancers allegedly linked to the tests from among some 1,000 plaintiffs.
Ahead of the visit, Hollande said he would make an announcement on the subject, which he described as "politically sensitive".
Hollande was also due to visit the Wallis and Futuna islands.
That marks the first visit by a French president to Wallis since Valery Giscard d'Estaing in 1979, and the first ever to Futuna.
The far-flung Pacific islands are among many scattered around the world, vestiges of France's colonial empire that today still boast an aggregate coastline, or Exclusive Economic Zones, second only to those of the United States.
Hollande is due to fly to Peru later Monday, followed by Argentina and Uruguay later in the week -- where he is set to promote scientific, cultural and university ties.
Although he is travelling with a delegation of business leaders from top French firms such as Carrefour and Thales, no major economic deals are expected to be signed on the trip.
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