French President Emmanuel Macron was greeted with flower garlands and Tahitian dancers on the tarmac as he touched down Saturday night for his first official trip to French Polynesia.
While in the South Pacific territory, he plans to discuss its strategic role, the legacy of nuclear tests and the existential risk of rising seas posed by global warming.
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.
“During this visit, the president intends to establish a strong and transparent dialogue by encouraging several concrete steps, on the history with the opening of state archives as well as individual compensation,” said a French presidential official, who asked not to be named.