Disputed Matthew and Hunter islands

France won't cede disputed islands to Vanuatu

The long-running dispute over the Matthew and Hunter Islands, which sit between New Caledonia and Vanuatu, flared again recently with the visit of a French warship.

The dispute has been going on for decades, and tempers flared when the French crew painted the tricolour flag on a large rock in January.

That led to calls for Vanuatu to expel French diplomats.

Vanuatu's foreign minister rejected those calls, instead calling for negotiations with Paris to resume.

Vanuatu welcomes 'breakthrough' over disputed islands

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

Mr Regenvanu toldĀ Islands BusinessĀ 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.