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French PM: France to Make New Wage Offer to Guadeloupe

The French prime minister says he is ready to submit a proposal to employers and unions on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe that would boost the income of the island's poor.

Francois Fillon told French radio Thursday mediators have worked out a plan that comes close to the $250 monthly pay increase strikers in Guadeloupe are demanding for low-wage workers.

Rioters fired at police and stormed a city hall, overnight Wednesday to Thursday, in Guadeloupe's third straight night of violence. Weeks of a general strike and protests against the island's rising cost of living have escalated into deadly rioting.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to hold talks in Paris Thursday with authorities from Guadeloupe.

Reports from Pointe-a-Pitre, the island's main town, say a union representative was shot to death Tuesday and three police officers have been wounded in the protests.

The national government appealed for calm in Guadeloupe and urged protesters to rejoin talks about their economic complaints.

The island's protesters also want relief from rising food and fuel prices.

Rioters overturned cars, looted shops and set fires Tuesday night and early Wednesday in Pointe-a-Pitre and two other urban centers in Guadeloupe, which has been governed by France since the 17th century.

Protests also have broken out in Martinique, another French Caribbean island, and in Reunion Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean.

The spreading unrest in France's Caribbean territories has prompted concern that violence could erupt in mainland France, where about 2.5 million people staged a nationwide strike last month to show their disapproval of France's response to the global economic crisis.

Salaries in the islands are lower than in mainland France, although many prices are higher, and unemployment rates also are higher.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.