France signs 10-billion-euro contracts with Libya

French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed a series of contracts worth around 10 billion euros (14.7 billion U.S. dollars) with visiting Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi here late Monday.

France signs 10-billion-euro contracts with Libya

The two sides agreed to build a civilian nuclear reactor in Libya to desalinize sea water and exploit Libya's uranium riches, Sarkozy's office said.

The Libyan side will buy 21 aircraft from France's Airbus worth some 3.2 billion euros (4.7 billion dollars). French presidential sources also said Libya was planning to buy 14 Rafale fighter jets and 35 military helicopters in a deal worth 4.5 billion euros (6.6 billion dollars).

Sarkozy is the first western leader to invite Gaddafi for a visit since the 1980s and he described the contracts as "rewards for Tripoli's improved behavior."

But the visit was not without controversy. France's minister for human rights Rama Yade distanced herself from the trip, which began on the UN's Human Rights Day, criticizing Libya for using torture in its jails and its lack of a free press.

There were also 80 arrests of both supporters and opponents of Gaddafi for demonstrating without authorization outside the hotel where he is staying.

The Libyan leader is expected to stay in France for a five-day period starting Monday, during which he will meet members of the National Assembly, women representatives from France's immigrant-concentrated suburbs and give a speech at the UN culture organization UNESCO.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Aralık 2007, 15:25
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