Sarkozy opens French military base in Gulf

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President Nicolas Sarkozy formally opened the first military base in the United Arab Emirates oil-rich Gulf region.

Abu Dhabi – French President Nicolas Sarkozy formally opened a French military base in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, the country's first in the oil-rich Gulf region.

The French and UAE flags were raised at the so-called "Peace Camp" in Abu Dhabi at a ceremony also attended by UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

The base will host up to 500 troops stationed in three sites on the banks of the Strait of Hormuz, just across from Iran: a navy and logistical base, an air base with three fighter planes and a training camp.

Paris is seeking to strengthen its foothold in the region -- alongside Washington and London which also have Gulf bases -- for lucrative defence contracts and nuclear energy deals.

"The general mission of this base is to support our forces deployed in the Indian Ocean but will also serve to develop bilateral military cooperation," said base commander Colonel Herve Cherel.

France is a leading military supplier to the UAE and the two countries are linked by a 1995 defence pact under which their armed forces chiefs meet once a year and their army troops conduct around 25 joint manoeuvres each year.

AFP / Expatica

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