Angola-French relations on the mend

25th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 September 2007, UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Relations between France and oil-rich Angola, strained following an arms sale scandal, are on the mend, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said here Monday, after talks with his Angolan counterpart Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.

25 September 2007

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Relations between France and oil-rich Angola, strained following an arms sale scandal, are on the mend, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said here Monday, after talks with his Angolan counterpart Jose Eduardo Dos Santos.

"I believe I can say that a page has been turned, that of sour relations between Angola and France," said Sarkozy, who is here to attend the UN General Assembly session.

"President Dos Santos invited me to visit Angola early in 2008," the French leader said.

He noted that he would make the trip with his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, and that French junior cooperation minister Jean-Marie Bockel would make a prepratory visit first.

Bilateral relations soured over the so-called "Angolagate" case, a long-running judicial investigation into illegal arms sales that cast a shadow over many senior French government officials, especially those in office during French Socialist President Francois Mitterrand's 1981-1995 rule.

The case revolves around illegal arms sales negotiated through businessman Pierre Falcone and his associate Arcady Gaydamak, a Russian-born billionnaire, to shore up the forces of President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos in his war against UNITA rebels.

The pair, who are among the 42 named in an indictment, were allegedly involved in the sale of tanks, helicopters, weapons and ammunition, as well as six warships.

Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, the son of the late president Mitterrand, and a former interior minister Charles Pasqua are also among the 42 defendants who will stand trial in the case.

Mitterrand, who was an adviser on African affairs at the Elysee presidential palace from 1986 to 1992, is accused of "complicity in illegal trade and embezzlement".

He allegedly took bribes worth 2.6 million dollars between 1997 and 1999 in connection with the sale of 790 million dollars (590 million euros) in arms from 1993 to 2000 to the southern African country when it was in middle of a protracted civil war that ultimately left half a million dead.

He was in 2004 found guilty of tax fraud and sentenced to a 30-month suspended jail sentence.

Pasqua served twice as France's interior minister -- from 1986 to 1988 and again from 1993 to 1995. He is best known for pushing through a series of anti-immigration laws.

AFP

Subject: French news

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