PARIS (AP) _ Corsican nationalists and French officials joined in support of an offer to grant more autonomy to Corsica in an effort to ease the island's often strained relations with the mainland.

Corsican lawmakers said they were likely to approve Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's plan, while government ministers on Friday called the measure ``balanced'' and ``exemplary.''

France has governed Corsica since 1763. The Mediterranean island has been shaken by sporadic violence for decades as nationalists pressed demands for independence.

On Thursday, the government offered Corsican lawmakers the power to adapt certain French laws, part of an effort to end the violence that has troubled the island for decades.

The president of Corsica's assembly, Jose Rossi, predicted that the island's lawmakers would reach a near-consensus in favor of the proposal when they consider it on July 28 in Ajaccio. If they approve it, a bill could go before the French National Assembly this fall.

Jean-Guy Talamoni, head of the Corsica Nazione nationalist group, thanked the French ministers for listening to demands.

Under the plan, Corsican lawmakers would have a trial period during which they could adapt certain French laws for use on the island.

At first France's parliament would have to approve any changes to legislation, but Corsican lawmakers could have the final say on adapting laws as soon as 2004 if the trial period goes successfully.