Sarkozy says nuclear power essential to independence

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President Nicolas Sarkozy insisted Wednesday that despite growing international concern over its safety nuclear energy remained essential for the country's energy independence and the environment.

Amid concerns around the world in the face of quake-hit Japan's nuclear crisis, Sarkozy said that France, proportionally the world's biggest user of nuclear power, would stick with it.

"France has made the choice of nuclear energy, which is an essential element of its energy independence and the fight against greenhouse gases," Sarkozy told a cabinet meeting, according to a statement released by his office.

"This choice has been indissociable from an unfaltering undertaking to ensure a very high level of safety at our nuclear installations.

"I remain today convinced of the pertinence of these choices," he said.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Tuesday that France would check all its nuclear reactors but insisted it would be absurd to condemn nuclear energy out of hand.

France is proportionally the world's biggest user of nuclear power, with 58 reactors in 19 power plants providing around 75 percent of its energy needs.

Sarkozy also confirmed that France, which currently heads the G20 group of nations, would in the coming weeks host energy and finance ministers from the bloc in order to discuss "the world's energy options of the future."

© 2011 AFP

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