France to propose Libya nuclear cooperation deal

31st May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 31 (AFP) - France will "soon" offer Libya a cooperation agreement to help Tripoli develop its civilian nuclear energy program, the French foreign ministry said Tuesday.

PARIS, May 31 (AFP) - France will "soon" offer Libya a cooperation agreement to help Tripoli develop its civilian nuclear energy program, the French foreign ministry said Tuesday.

"The principle of cooperation in the area of peaceful applications of nuclear energy is a given, but the content has yet to be defined. We're still in the exploratory phase," said ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei.

"We will soon offer an agreement to the Libyans on what can be done," the spokesman told reporters.

France's ambassador to Tripoli on Monday handed Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgham an official note announcing France's readiness to cooperate with Tripoli on its nuclear power projects, officials said.

The note changed hands before French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin presented his resignation, and that of his government, on Tuesday.

During a visit by President Jacques Chirac last November, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi said his nation had renounced weapons of mass destruction and hoped that the transfer of technology would permit the oil-rich nation to develop a nuclear program for peaceful means.

On that occasion Chirac - the first French head of state to visit Tripoli since Libyan independence from Italy in 1951 - vowed to forge a "true partnership" with Libya.

Mattei said Tuesday that Paris was prepared to offer a "favorable response" to Kadhafi's request for technology transfers "with full respect for the international commitments made by all parties".

A French fact-finding mission was recently in Libya, the spokesman added.

Kadhafi has undergone a dramatic diplomatic reversal in the past year since agreeing to stop developing weapons of mass destruction, denouncing terrorism and acknowledging responsibility for the Lockerbie and French UTA plane bombings in the 1980s.

Various controls apply to Libya, notably supervision by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Libya, which has proven oil reserves of 30 billion barrels, claims to have triple that.

"The cooperation that France intends to develop with Libya shows that states which respect their international commitments on non-proliferation, and with which a certain level of transparency has been established on the goals they wish to pursue, can legitimately benefit from civilian nuclear technologies necessary to their development," Mattei said, clearly alluding to Iran.

Last week, the European Union pushed back by two months the deadline for a final deal - or a new battle - with the Islamic republic on its controversial nuclear program.

The EU is expected to offer help to Tehran with developing civilian nuclear power, as well as commercial and political ties, in exchange for respecting a deal struck last November to freeze its uranium enrichment program.

 © AFP


Subject: French News

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