Niger president says Areva uranium mines safe

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Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou said Wednesday that his security forces had made safe the uranium mines in his country run by French state-owned nuclear firm Areva.

"We have taken all security measures so that work can resume at the new mine in Imouraren... and the Arlit zone is now secured," he said after a meeting in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

He also said he was doing all he could to obtain the release of four French hostages captured near the mines by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), which has carried out bomb attacks and abductions in the region.

Areva has significantly scaled down its activities in Niger since the abduction last September of seven foreigners in the northern mining town of Arlit.

The seven expatriates included an Areva manager and his wife, both French, and five employees of the Satom subsidiary of construction firm Vinci, which works with Areva.

Three of the hostages -- a Frenchwoman, a Togolese and a Madagascar national -- were released in February.

Areva was accused of failing sufficiently to take into account threats weighing over its personnel in Niger.

© 2011 AFP

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