France seeks Turkey as trade ally in Africa

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France said Monday it was seeking to team up with Turkey for joint European trade missions in Africa to counter the growing power of China in winning contracts there.

"I have proposed to our Turkish friends to run joint missions by Turkey and France, Turkey and Britain, in Africa where competition is such that it is often the Chinese who win the contracts," Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told parliament.

"Turkey and France could join forces to make more effective bids," he added.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy has resisted the aspirations of largely Muslim Turkey to join the European Union, blocking certain formal stages of the long process to formalise ties, referred to as "chapters."

Kouchner said however that France was willing for "another chapter to be opened, on competition."

"It is not a simple matter," he added however. "Let's give it time."

© 2010 AFP

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