MACAPA, Brazil, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Forging a military
alliance between France and Brazil and curbing illegal activity
over the Brazil-French Guiana border will be the focus of talks
between their two leaders on Tuesday.
Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Nicolas
Sarkozy of France will also inaugurate the construction of a
bridge linking Brazil with French Guiana -- a key project in
developing the wild jungle area.
The bridge between Brazil's Oiapoque town and Saint-Georges
will be the first land border crossing for French Guiana, an
overseas department of France separated from Brazil by the
Upon its planned completion in 2010, it will also be the
only bridge linking European territory to the Americas.
Lula is keen to discuss a strategic military alliance with
France, his aides said. Brazil wants France to sell it jet
fighters and helicopters and, possibly, a $600 million
Brazilian defense minister Nelson Jobim was in Paris last
month for talks with Sarkozy and French defense industry
"Our objective is to deepen this strategic alliance," Lula
spokesman Marcelo Baumbach said.
The two leaders will also discuss how to combat illegal
gold mining and trafficking in the border region, according to
a French diplomat in Brasilia.
Brazilian wild cat miners, often heavily armed, smuggle
gold back over the border to Brazil and their mining operations
inflict environmental damage in French Guiana.
"This is our only border where the Brazilians create more
of a problem than our neighbors," Mauro Sposito, head of border
control with Brazil's federal police, told Reuters.
Thousands of Brazilians were in French Guiana illegally, he
Biofuels, civilian nuclear cooperation as well as global
trade talks were also likely to be on the agenda, Baumbach
The two presidents will unveil a model of the bridge across
the Oiapoque river at a detachment of the Foreign Legion, the
famed force of international recruits that used to defend
A regiment guards the Kourou space center, where Europe's
Ariana rockets are launched.
The bridge was symbolic of Brazil's efforts to integrate
South American countries, government officials said.
Due to the lack of roads, railways and ports several
neighbors in the region trade far more with the United States
or Europe than with each other.