Angola 'threat to end Total concessionunless France drops arms dealer charges'

27th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

LUANDA, April 27 (AFP) - Angola is threatening to cut French oil group Total out of lucrative deals unless the French government withdraws charges of arms smuggling against businessman Pierre Falcone, a report said Tuesday.

LUANDA, April 27 (AFP) - Angola is threatening to cut French oil group Total out of lucrative deals unless the French government withdraws charges of arms smuggling against businessman Pierre Falcone, a report said Tuesday.

"Angolan authorities are expected to tell France that oil drilling licences granted to this company will not be renewed once the concessions expire," said the privately-owned Semanario Angolense weekly, quoting French diplomatic sources.

The paper said the Angolan government recently handed a dossier to the French government in which they requested that arms-dealing charges against Falcone, a former UN envoy to Angola, be dropped.

France issued a warrant for Falcone's arrest in January, saying he had only limited diplomatic immunity through his appointment last June to the UN's Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

He came under investigation on suspicion of having organised the sale of USD 500 million (EUR 400 million) worth of jets, helicopters and other weaponry to the Angolan government of President Eduardo dos Santos in 1993 and 1994.

The sales allegedly took place during the southwest African country's civil war, in breach of international sanctions.

He was also investigated for allegedly buying influence.

Falcone denies the charges.

The arrest warrant was issued because Falcone twice refused to appear before a judge and has left France, which he was forbidden from doing under his probation terms.

The incident has created "enormous tension" between the governments of France and Angola, the newspaper said.

This was visible in the fact that France's ambassador to Luanda, Guy Asais, who arrived at the beginning of the year, up to now has not presented his credentials to dos Santos.

© AFP

                                             Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article