French Polynesia has lodged a formal application to become a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) after almost a decade on the sidelines of the regional grouping, it was reported Tuesday.
Papua New Guinea Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, whose country will host this year's PIF summit in September, said he travelled to Papeete last week to discuss the application.
"The people and government of French Polynesia make an important contribution to economic and cultural exchange... (but) admitting a new member is not a decision that is taken lightly," he told Port Moresby's Post-Courier newspaper.
French Polynesia, with a population of about 280,000, is one of three French territories in the Pacific.
It has been an associate member of the 15-nation PIF since 2006, preventing it from participating fully as the main regional grouping for the Pacific's small island states.
However, French Polynesia could face a long wait for membership, with some PIF members believed to be reluctant to include territories that are not independent.
New Caledonia, another French territory, applied for full membership in 2007 and has still not been admitted.
No one from the PIF was immediately available to comment on French Polynesia's application.