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Middle East
Sarkozy: Arabs have nuclear right
But French president says right to nuclear energy should not extend to Iran.
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2008 19:38 GMT
Sarkozy is greeted by Qatar's Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani as he eyes nuclear deals with Arabs [Reuters]
Nicolas Sarkozy has said that Arab countries should have the right to develop nuclear energy.

However, the French president said that right should not be extended to Iran until the government in Tehran has proved definitively that it does not intend to acquire nuclear weapons.
Sarkozy told Al Jazeera in the Qatari capital Doha on Monday: "In 40 years from now there will be no oil left and in 100 years no more gas, nuclear power will replace those energy sources ... It is the energy of the future.
 
"So, [why] should Arab countries be banned from using this energy?"
"That's why we say there is no reason to prevent Arab countries from using nuclear energy for civilian and peaceful purposes."
 
Sarkozy is currently on a tour of Gulf countries as he attempts to consolidate French political and economic ties in the region.

Distribution deal

"It would be giving credit to the current Iranian regime if civilian nuclear energy is only used by western democracies," he said.

"France tells Iran 'give up your race for a nuclear weapon - it's a risk and you don't really need it'. And, if you [Iran] stop the race for a nuclear weapon, you would have access to civilian nuclear power."

Sarkozy's latest comments came as officials revealed Areva, the French nuclear reactor manufacturer, has signed a $700 million electricity distribution and transmission deal with Qatar.

French power firm EDF also signed a memorandum with Qatar "to engage discussions on co-operations in the areas of nuclear power production and renewable energy generation," the Reuters news agency reported.
 
Sarkozy is also due to sign a nuclear co-operation deal with the UAE, the next stop of his tour, on Tuesday.

France generates the majority of its own energy from nuclear reactors and has been actively seeking deals with Arab countries such as Libya and Egypt.

Several Gulf countries are exploring the option of nuclear energy despite having large oil and gas reserves.

Peace plea

In another possible sign of France expanding its presence in the Gulf, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that Sarkozy may also sign an agreement that would allow the French navy to station vessels in the Arab emirate across the Gulf from Iran.

A source familiar with the issue told Reuters that France and Abu Dhabi would sign an agreement on "the possibility of stationing several naval units in Abu Dhabi" as part of a deal on "improved military co-operation".

The French president also used his visit in Qatar to urge for progress in the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians.

"The only way to put an end to their [the Palestinians'] suffering is to create - right now - the conditions for a viable Palestinian state," he told Al Jazeera.

"As you can see, it is possible to be the friend of Israel and the friend of the Palestinians. And let me say this: both peoples are condemned to live together, side by side.

"We must put an end to hatred and division. We need to talk more about love, friendship and reconciliation."
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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