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French president Macron visits former colonies in French Polynesia

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By Mark Armstrong  with AFP
French president Macron visits former colonies in French Polynesia
Copyright  LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP or licensors

President Emmanuel Macron of France arrived in Tahiti on Sunday on a visit to French Polynesia.

On arrival in Tahiti's main city of Papeete, 12 time zones away from Paris, he was greeted by an orero, symbolising the guardian of Polynesian culture.

The visit is expected to focus on climate change, China's growing assertiveness in the Pacific region, and the legacy of French nuclear tests.

Residents in the sprawling archipelago of more than 100 islands, located midway between Mexico and Australia, are hoping Macron confirms compensation for radiation victims following decades of nuclear testing as France pursued atomic weapons.

The tests remain a source of deep resentment, seen as evidence of racist colonial attitudes that disregarded the lives of islanders.

Over four days, Macron will visit four sites spread out across an ocean territory that's as large as Europe.

The trip is aimed at reinforcing the link between Paris and its far-flung former colonies in the Pacific.

Macron's visit will also include a discussion on Tahiti's planned role as the host of surfing events for the 2024 Paris Olympics.