Sarkozy to open first Gulf military base in Abu Dhabi

14th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to formally open his country's first Gulf-based military base in Abu Dhabi in May, the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat said on Saturday

DUBAI - The Saudi-owned paper quoted French diplomatic sources as saying that Sarkozy would travel to the United Arab Emirates to inaugurate the base amid efforts by France to bolster relations in the oil-rich Gulf region.

In 2008 France signed an agreement with the UAE to set up its first permanent military base in Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest and largest of the nation's seven emirates.

"It will be the first such French base in the Gulf and it will face the Strait of Hormuz," a French presidential source said in January 2008.

The strategic Strait of Hormuz, which separates the UAE's neighbours Iran and Oman, is a vital conduit through which an estimated 40 percent of the world's crude oil passes.

French officials said last year that the base will eventually host 400-500 French army, navy and air force personnel.

France is a leading military supplier to the UAE, and the two countries are linked by a 1995 defence pact.

AFP / Expatica

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