File photo: French President Emmanuel Macron Photograph:( AFP )
Macron is expected to address legacy of nuclear testing from 1966 to 1996
As French President Emmanuel Macron kicked off his first official trip to French Polynesia, he faced pressure to apologise for devastating impact of decades of nuclear testing.
Macron plans to address legacy of nuclear testing from 1966 to 1996 during his four day visit. He is also likely to discuss South Pacific territory's strategic role and threat posed by global warming.
Residents in the sprawling archipelago of more than 100 islands located midway between Mexico and Australia are hoping Macron apologises and confirms compensation for radiation victims.
The tests remain a source of deep resentment, seen as evidence of racist colonial attitudes that disregarded the lives of islanders.
After touching down Saturday, Macron, whose 2020 trip was postponed due to the pandemic, met hospital workers fighting Covid-19 in the semi-autonomous territory where many are wary of vaccines.
"I want to send a very strong message to call on everyone to get vaccinated," he said, adding: "When you're vaccinated, you're protected and you hardly spread the virus, or at least much less."