FRANCE - LIBYA: Sarkozy Signs Wide Ranging Agreements with Libya

French President Nicolas Sarkozy appeared to be rewarding Libya for its cooperation in the freeing of six Bulgarian medics by signing a number of military and trade accords with the North African state Wednesday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised Libya military protection in case of attack and signed a series of cooperation agreements during his visit, French media reported Wednesday
Sarkozy's intention to forge a "strategic partnership" with Libya during his state visit to the country, which started Wednesday and was his first visit to Africa as French head of state, was a result of the liberation of six Bulgarian medics Tuesday, according to the online edition of the French magazine Le Point.

Sarkozy's wife, Cecilia, and his top aide, Claude Gueant, helped negotiate the liberation of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who received Bulgarian citizenship. The six had been sentenced to death for allegedly infecting more than 400 Libyan children with AIDS.

The anti-nuclear group
Sortir du Nucleaire has charged that Sarkozy helped liberate the nurses by promising to help build up Libya's nuclear energy program.
Two nuclear deals signed
"Sarkozy seems already to have forgotten that Gadhafi is a dictator," the group said in a press statement. "To deliver atomic energy technology to Libya means helping the country build nuclear weapons."
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the construction of a Libyan nuclear reactor for water desalination, said Gueant, who accompanied Sarkozy on the trip.

Gueant added that "there is still much work to do" on the feasibility study of the desalination project. A second agreement, outlining a framework for civilian nuclear energy cooperation was also signed at the end of the talks between Kadhafi and Sarkozy by Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, officials said.

Sarkozy in search of energy deals
In addition to strengthening ties between the oil exporting nation and the west by making Libya part of the Mediterranean Union Sarkozy is trying to establish, the French president had hoped to land big contracts for the French nuclear energy company Areva and petroleum giant Total. Before Sarkozy landed in Libya on Wednesday, presidential spokesman
David Martinon confirmed this on French television: "What we are going to talk about is wide-ranging cooperation, in all fields.

"We can do a lot more and a lot better with
Libya, and that is why the head of state is traveling there," he added.

The presidential Airbus landed at Mitiga military airport on Wednesday afternoon and Sarkozy and Kouchner headed straight to the Bab Azizia palace for an official welcoming ceremony and then to the signing of the cooperation agreements.

The French entourage was to attend a dinner hosted by Libyan leader Gadhafi at Bab Azizia, a sprawling complex outside
Tripoli. Following his visit to Libya, where he wrote he was "happy to be in your country to talk about the future" in a guest book, Sarkozy will travel on to Senegal, South Africa and Congo.
Libya expected to become trading partner du jour
Analysts believe the resources-rich North African country could now become a key trading partner for France and other Western states after the negotiations which saw the Bulgarian nurses released.

According to a Libyan government official, new deals could cover the areas of security, energy, education, immigration, health and scientific research.
bajaenergyblogFranco-Libyan relations have been steadily improving since a 2004 accord on a Libyan compensation deal for the victims of a French DC-10 airliner bombing over Niger, which killed 170 people, including 54 French nationals, in 1989. The upturn paved the way for a visit by Sarkozy's predecessor Jacques Chirac in November 2004. The two countries resumed defense cooperation in February 2005 and struck an accord on civilian nuclear research in March 2006.

French aerospace manufacturer Dassault has also struck an agreement to service 12 French-bought Mirage F1 jets -- although it denies persistent rumors of negotiations on a Libyan purchase of its Rafale fighter. French exports to the country jumped 43.4 percent in 2006 to reach 433.6 million euros ($600 million) -- although it imported 1.9 billion euros worth of goods -- almost all oil -- from Libya over the same period.

Via: DW News
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