INTRODUCTION Long-delayed talks to decide the future of France's last African territory began in Paris on Monday (28 February).
GV EXTERIOR: of Ministry for Overseas Territories.
SV: minsters and delegates arriving and entering building. (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR: with delegates seated at table.(3 shots))
SV: M. Olivier Stirn Minister for Overseas Territories takes seat at table, with other delegates. (3 shots)
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION France has about 6,000 men from the armed services in Djibouti, but has made it known it is not interested in maintaining the military base.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION Long-delayed talks to decide the future of France's last African territory began in Paris on Monday (28 February). Political leaders from the Territory of the Afars and Issas - better known as Djibouti - are in the French capital to try and fix a date for a referendum on independence. They continued their talks on Wednesday (2 March) at the French Minister for Overseas Territories.
SYNOPSIS: The Paris talks were originally scheduled for January and were to have brought together the French authorities and representatives of all political groups from the territory. But the French organisers had to postpone the meeting twice because of opposition to it from some political groups. The National union for Independence Party from the territory has announced it is boycotting the talks. The delegates in Paris have been examining the possibility of arranging general elections before independence is declared. There are also hopes of possible cooperation agreements between France and the future independent state.
The French authorities are reported to favour a declaration of full independence not later than the first of July. That would avoid further criticism of France's role in the territory from the Organisation of African Unity, which holds its summit in July.
The leader of the French team at the talks is Minister for Overseas Territories, M. Olivier Stirn. The discussions on cooperation also cover the area of defence and the organisation of any army for the new state.