Chirac kicks off Africa tour in Senegal

2nd February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 1 (AFP) - France's relations with its former colony Senegal are to top a three-day visit to Africa starting Wednesday by French President Jacques Chirac, officials in Paris said.

PARIS, Feb 1 (AFP) - France's relations with its former colony Senegal are to top a three-day visit to Africa starting Wednesday by French President Jacques Chirac, officials in Paris said.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade will play host to Chirac, who will become the first French head of state to visit the country since 1995.

Wade told AFP in an interview that he saw the visit as "a sign of interest, of consideration and of friendship between two peoples who built their history together."

Chirac's office said France enjoys privileged trade ties with Senegal, which is the biggest beneficiary of French state foreign aid and development funds and home to 27,000 French nationals among its population of 10 million.

Jerome Bonnafont, Chirac's spokesman, said Senegal, with its "very strong democratic tradition", is now the main beachhead for French influence in west Africa following civil strife in Ivory Coast, the once-model former colony which has become inhospitable to French residents.

A group of 15 French business leaders and two ministers will join Chirac on the visit, he said.

Bonnafont added that, as well discussing regional stability, Chirac and Wade will on Wednesday talk about France's idea of a worldwide tax on transactions to finance development in poorer countries.

On Thursday, Chirac will travel to the city of Saint Louis, which served as the capital of the territory once known as French Western Africa, before returning to Dakar to inspect a battalion of French troops based there.

Friday, he will attend an international forum on agriculture and then fly on to Brazzaville, the capital of Congo, where he will participate in a summit on saving central African forests and hold talks with Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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