Sarkozy announces nuclear cooperation with Morocco

Other News Materials 24 October 2007 07:08

( AFP ) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Tuesday that France and Morocco had decided to cooperate on civil nuclear energy.

"We have decided to launch a new project, that is civil nuclear energy," Sarkozy said at a state dinner held in his honour by Morocco's King Mohammed VI at the royal palace in Marrakesh.

Earlier on Tuesday Sarkozy told Moroccan lawmakers he would like to see the country create a civilian nuclear subsidiary in partnership with France, in the wake of reports that the French nuclear industry could do a deal to build a reactor to furnish electric power to the industrial town of Safi on the Atlantic coast.

"Future energy sources should not be the exclusive domain of more developed countries as long as international conventions are respected everywhere," he said.

"Saying that, it is also a way for me to convey to Iran that cooperation is possible and that we are not condemned to confrontation," he added, referring to the international standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme.

The Western powers suspect Tehran is secretly seeking to develop nuclear weapons, while Tehran says it is strictly to produce needed energy.

Both France and Morocco have appointed officials to develop their civil nuclear energy cooperation, the French president said.

Sarkozy arrived in Morocco on Monday for a three-day state visit, and has already officiated over the signing of over two billion euros (2.8 billion dollars) in business deals.

Top among them was an accord for French firm Alstom to build a high-speed TGV train link between the cities of Tangiers and Casablanca, jointly with the French state rail firm SNCF and the RFF rail track company, providing both rolling stock and signalling and safety equipment.

France will also build the Moroccan navy a multi-purpose frigate worth 500 million euros and modernise 25 Puma military helicopters and 140 army vehicles.

Sarkozy on Tuesday also said it is "essential to improve a controlled legal influx of people between the two coasts of the Mediterranean," as the European Commission unveiled in Brussels its new "blue card" labour scheme aimed at attracting highly qualified immigrants to the European Union.

King Mohammed VI said that Morocco wants an "advanced status" with the European Union, and called upon France to help push its European partners to grant his north African country closer ties.

Morocco, which signed an association agreement with the EU in 1996, has repeatedly asked for "advanced status" as an EU partner.