France signs up with Libya on nuclear reactor

France and Libya signed a memorandum of understanding to build a Libyan nuclear reactor for water desalination and clinched a raft of other deals, a senior French official said.

France signs up with Libya on nuclear reactor
The agreement "aims to furnish Libya with a nuclear reactor that makes it possible to meet one of its important needs -- a supply of drinking water," French presidential aide Claude Gueant told reporters in Tripoli.

"Drinking water is rare in Libya, so the aim is to allow the desalination of sea water" using nuclear energy, Gueant added.

The deal came soon after French President Nicolas Sarkozy flew in for talks with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, a day after Tripoli's release of six foreign medics that cleared the way for trade deals with the oil-rich state.

Gueant stressed that "there is still much work to do" on the feasibility study of the desalination project and that French experts had already been in Libya for more than three weeks doing preliminary planning.

Asked if the deal had been linked to the release of the medics, he replied, "No, not at all."

But Gueant added, the release of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian-born doctor had been made possible "through renewed co-operation both between France and Libya and between the European Union and Libya."

"It is a strong political signal which signifies that countries which comply with international regulations on nuclear energy, such as Libya, can acquire equipment they need for civilian purposes," he said.

Gueant, along with Sarkozy's wife Cecilia, joined European Union officials in Tripoli earlier in the week to press Tripoli to release the medics, held in Libya since 1999 and whose death sentence for infecting children with the AIDS virus was commuted.

The medics were flown to Sofia on Tuesday aboard a French government jet after being released by the Libyan authorities. They were then granted a pardon by Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov, ending an eight-year ordeal.

A second agreement, to cooperate on civilian nuclear energy, was signed at the end of Wednesday's talks between Kadhafi and Sarkozy, officials said.

Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner also signed accords relating to military-industrial cooperation, cultural, scientific and technical assistance and cooperation in the field of research, they said.

Additionally, a partnership agreement was signed which according to a French official expresses "a common will to implement co-operation in all fields."

Sarkozy has touted his visit of less than 24 hours as a "political trip" to help Libya's reintegration into the international community after decades of sanctions and isolation.

AFP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Temmuz 2007, 11:57
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