Gaddafi arrives in Paris in historic visit

Libyan leader's France visit set to usher in multi-billion-euro nuclear, aviation contracts.

Gaddafi arrives in Paris in historic visit

Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi arrives in Paris Monday for a high-profile visit set to usher in multi-billion-euro nuclear and aviation contracts.

Staying in a heated Bedouin tent pitched near the Elysee presidential palace, Gathafi is expected during the five-day visit to approve the purchase of three billion euros (4.4 billion dollars) of Airbus planes, a nuclear reactor and possibly Rafale fighter jets.

Gathafi's son Seif el-Islam said the official visit, the veteran leader's first to France since 1973, would celebrate "the new relations" between the two countries. Gathafi and President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet at least twice, Monday and Wednesday.

The invitation from Paris came after the release of Bulgarian medics imprisoned in Libya on charges of infecting children with HIV/AIDS. Sarkozy's ex-wife Cecilia played a role as negotiator.

Sarkozy visited Tripoli immediately afterwards, overseeing the signing of arms sales and an accord to build a nuclear plant for water desalination, underscoring Libya's return to the international fold after years of isolation.

"If we do not welcome countries that choose the path of respectability, what can we say to those that choose the other path?" Sarkozy asked reporters.

"I hope this visit is a success, that we can sign a certain number of economic agreements. Concerning the rest, his personality, he has his temperament, and it's not up to me to judge him."

Franco-Libyan relations have steadily improved since a 2004 accord on a Libyan compensation deal for the victims of a French DC-10 airliner bombing over Niger.

The upturn paved the way for a visit by then French president Jacques Chirac in 2004. The two countries resumed defence cooperation in 2005.

The Libyan leader is scheduled to meet with intellectuals and members of France's African community, visit the Versailles Chateau and take part in a hunt in woodlands near the capital.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Aralık 2007, 15:18
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