Vanuatu welcomes 'breakthrough' over disputed islands

There's been a breakthrough in negotiations with France over the disputed Matthew and Hunter islands, Vanuatu's foreign minister Ralph Regenvanu says.

Both France and Vanuatu claim the uninhabited volcanic islands east of New Caledonia and south-east of Vanuatu.

Mr Regenvanu told Islands Business there had been a major change of attitude from France towards resolving the long-standing dispute.

He said in the last year France had finally agreed to come to the table to start negotiations and there had been two meetings so far.

The minister said things were progressing well but he said Vanuatu was urging France to continue to meet every three months at a minimum.

Islands Business reports Mr Regenvanu has also welcomed new engagement with Fiji to discuss outstanding boundary issues.

He said in the last month Fiji had agreed to start talks.