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France, Saudi Arabia close to civil nuclear pact

Latest update : 2009-05-11

France and Saudi Arabia have made “progress” toward finalising a civilian nuclear energy cooperation pact, French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde (photo) said. President Nicolas Sarkozy has already signed such deals with Algeria and Libya.

REUTERS - France and Saudi Arabia have made “good progress” towards finalising a civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement and a deal could be signed soon, French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said on Sunday.

 

“The talks have made good progress and I hope that our two heads of state will be able to sign an agreement soon,” Lagarde said after talks with King Abdullah, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf and other officials.

 

“It involves cooperation in civil nuclear energy under the best security conditions,” Lagarde told reporters in Riyadh.

 

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has already signed civilian nuclear deals with Arab oil producers Algeria and Libya, offered Riyadh help last year to develop civilian nuclear energy.

 

A few months later, the United States said it would help the world’s top oil exporter to develop peaceful nuclear energy.  Russia has also expressed interest in helping Saudi Arabia develop a civilian nuclear energy programme.

 

The Gulf Cooperation Council—a loose economic and political alliance of six Arab states including Saudi Arabia— said in 2007 it was studying a joint nuclear energy programme and had been in touch with the U.N. atomic energy watchdog about cooperating over such a scheme.

 

Date created : 2009-05-11

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