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French president visits riot-hit New Caledonia

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Sydney: French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in New Caledonia on Thursday, hoping for peace and security to return to the Pacific archipelago “as quickly as possible” after recent deadly riots.

“My wish, along with that of the ministers and the entire government, is to stand with the people so that we can return to peace, calm, and security as quickly as possible. This is the top priority,” Macron told reporters upon arrival at La Tontouta International Airport.

The French president acknowledged that many locals are suffering from a huge crisis, as some are sick and others have great difficulty feeding themselves.

“We will discuss questions of economic reconstruction, support and rapid response, and the most delicate political questions, as we talk about the future of New Caledonia,” he said.

He is expected to spend about 12 hours on the ground and set up a taskforce to deal with the crisis.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a proposed voting reform sparked protests and riots in New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, which have left six dead and hundreds injured since May 13.

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