Sarkozy offers Africa partnership of equals

February 29th, 2008 - 12:42 am ICT by admin  

Johannesburg, Feb 28 (DPA) French President Nicolas Sarkozy Thursday promised a review of France’s all security agreements with African countries as part of a new relationship based on mutual “equality, equity and respect”. Sarkozy, who arrived Thursday in Cape Town on his two-day state visit to South Africa, announced a boost in aid of 2.5 billion euros (about $3.71 billion) over the next five years for the African companies and expressed support for greater representation in multilateral institutions.

Recognizing that French intervention in Africa was often perceived by as “neo-colonial meddling and interference” Sarkozy promised a new, more balanced relationship with the continent.

He offered Africa “a new security partnership” which would give greater weight to the wishes of African countries as well as greater transparency in defence agreements - by making them public in their entirety.

The French leader was speaking at a joint press meeting with South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki following their bilateral talks.

Urging Africa to take ownership of its own security Sarkozy said: “France has no call to maintain armed forces in Africa indefinitely.”

France will send a team of engineers to South Africa within the next week to help it resolve an energy crisis caused by power shortages, he announced.

Earlier, they attended the signing of a 1.4-billion-euro deal between state electricity supplier Eskom and French company Alstom, which has been chosen to supply turbines for a new coal-fired power station in Mpumalanga province.

Sarkozy said the deployment of engineers was “totally irrespective” of French nuclear giant Areva’s bid to build a second 120-billion-rand ($15.8 billion) nuclear power plant in South Africa.

Sarkozy also announced that France and South Africa had taken up an invitation by Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir to send a joint delegation to the country “in the coming days” for talks on the crisis in Darfur.

The French president is accompanied on his Africa visit by his wife Carla Bruni. The two are expected to round off the trip with a holiday at a game lodge.

He is also joined by around 40 heads of French companies, including the CEOs of Areva and power utility EDF.

Sarkozy’s tour began Wednesday in Chad where he met with President Idriss Deby, whom French troops helped put down a revolt by Sudanese-backed rebels earlier this month.

He and Bruni were later scheduled to attend a banquet hosted by Mbeki before Friday visiting Robben Island and meeting former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg.

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