PARIS — France and New Zealand reached agreement on their dispute over the sinking of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, with France to pay $7 million in damages for the bombing attack, Premier Jacques Chirac's spokesman said today.
The spokesman, Denis Baudouin, said the compromise worked out by Javier Perez de Cuellar, the U.N. secretary-general, includes the transfer of two French intelligence agents sentenced by New Zealand in the case to a French military base at Hao, an island in the South Pacific.
The transfer is to take place before July 25 and the agents will have to stay at Hao at least three years, the length of a French overseas military posting, Baudouin said.
Under the accord, they will be allowed to live with their families and meet friends but they may not have any contact with the press.
France will also send a letter of apology for the bombing and will pay $7 million in damages to New Zealand, Baudouin said. He said an accord formalizing the agreement will be signed within a few days.
"Greenpeace is pleased that the New Zealand government (is) to get an apology," the group's spokesman, George Pritchard, said in London.
Pritchard said Greenpeace is pursuing its own compensation claims privately but would not say how much it demands from France.
News of the settlement was announced simultaneously in Paris and in Wellington, New Zealand, where Prime Minister David Lange said he welcomed the decision.
French agents mined and sank the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbor July 12, 1985, as it was getting ready to sail on a mission to monitor French nuclear testing on the Mururoa atoll. A Dutch Greenpeace photographer was killed.
Most of the French agents involved slipped out of New Zealand, but two, Cmdr. Alain Maffart and Capt. Dominique Prieur, were arrested, tried and sentenced to 10-year jail terms.