France, Morocco boost economic ties

France and Morocco have signed a series of accords and five commercial contracts worth €600 million ($720 million), French officials say.

    De Villepin: Goal is to create wealth and jobs for both sides

    The signings on Tuesday came during a visit by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who exited a meeting with King Mohammed VI saying the goal was to provide a "new dynamic" in France's relationship with its former North African territory.

    French firm Thales won a five-year contract worth over €100 million to provide secure identity cards to the Moroccan Interior Ministry.

    The cards will use Thales's "smart card" technology and will include personal and biometric data. About 20 million cards will be produced.

    Warplanes upgrade

    Also signed was a preliminary accord for Thales to upgrade about 20 Moroccan Mirage fighter jets. That deal will be finalised in coming weeks, French officials said. Morocco opted to modernise its Mirages rather than buy American F-16s.

    "We want to intensify our economic exchanges. The goal is to create wealth and jobs for both sides," Villepin said.

    Other contracts covered waste water management, postal services and state investment funds. The nine bilateral cooperation accords covered public works, finance, health and culture.

    A French development agency will finance road construction

    in rural areas and improved housing, projects valued at a

    total of €100 million.


    France will also loan €10 million to finance microcredit and advise Morocco on setting up health insurance.

    SOURCE: Agencies


     How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    Ninety-nine years since Balfour's "promise", Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    In the rundown Pedion Areos Park, older men walk slowly by young asylum seekers before agreeing on a price for sex.

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    The story of a most-wanted fugitive and billionaire.