Rocard: 'France has done wrong'

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, saying 'France has done wrong,' told New Zealand Monday that it was time for the two countries to build a new relationship.

Rocard apologized for the sinking of the Greenpeace ship 'Rainbow Warrior,' which was blown up by French agents in Auckland Harbor in July 1985 on the eve of its departure to protest against nuclear tests at the Mururoa atoll test site in French Polynesia.


'France has done wrong. I have said so publicly and I am saying so again,' he said at an official luncheon on his first visit to New Zealand.

But Rocard defended French nuclear testing in the South Pacific. He said he was puzzled by New Zealand's demand that France get rid of nuclear weapons and maintained that the nuclear threat has prevented war.

'It is, quite honestly, such a weird idea that I have difficulty understanding it,' he said of the New Zealand's proposal.

Rocard and Prime Minister Jim Bolger also signed a friendship agreement, which includes the establishment of a $2 million fund that will be used in part to pay reparations agreed to by France for the return of the secret service officers responsible for the 'Rainbow Warrior' sabotage.


Major Alain Marfart and Capt. Dominique Prieur were sentenced to 10 years on the remote French South Pacific island of Hao for their roles in the explosion that killed Portugese photographer Fernando Pereira. They were, however, allowed to return to France before their exile period was completed.

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