Sarkozy to review Africa defence pacts

France is to renegotiate all its defence cooperation agreements with African countries, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday in a move that could alter France's military support for some of its closest allies.

Sarkozy to review Africa defence pacts
France has defence accords with several former colonies, under which French forces provide varying degrees of military assistance, but Sarkozy has set out to reshape France's relationship with Africa.

"All the heads of state concerned have been informed," Sarkozy told a news conference in Cape Town during a visit to continental power South Africa.

"I will announce the renegotiation of all our defence agreements in Africa and the totally transparent publication of all of these agreements."

On the way to South Africa, Sarkozy had stopped in Chad, where France helped President Idriss Deby against a opposition forces on the capital earlier this month. He pushed Deby to talk to civilian opposition leaders.

Business focus

Business has been the main focus of Sarkozy's visit to South Africa.

He held talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki and the two countries signed several agreements, including a 1.4 billion euro ($2.1 billion) deal with French industrial group Alstom to help build a coal power plant.

France has long been the top foreign business partner for many of African states and a big player elsewhere in Africa, but now faces the prospect of losing out to new investors from India and China.

"South Africa is our number one economic trading partner in Africa and we have signed, it was witnessed earlier on, an agreement for a power station worth 1.4 billion euros," said Sarkozy

"And we will shortly, in fact within the next few days... be sending a team of French engineers in order to help our South African friends tackle the energy supply difficulties that they face right now," Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy brought 40 CEOs of French companies, including power giant EDF, industrial Alstom and nuclear firm Areva.

The French leader caused outrage in sub-Saharan Africa last year on his first visit as president, when he suggested the continent had failed to embrace progress.

Mbeki was among the few on the continent who appeared to show some sympathy for Sarkozy's comments about the lack of progress. Sarkozy will also meet anti-apartheid hero and former President Nelson Mandela.

Reuters
Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Şubat 2008, 11:32
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