Source AP ©

French and Moroccan officials sign deals

French and Moroccan officials signed deals on extracting Moroccan uranium to meet the growing world appetite for nuclear power and bringing high-speed trains to North Africa, during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The deals were signed Monday night soon after French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Marrakech on his first state visit. Sarkozy was expected to give a speech in the northern port city of Tangiers on Tuesday laying out his proposal for a Mediterranean Union.

The idea is modeled on a precursor to the European Union and would encourage cooperation and trade by breaking down barriers between southern Europe and northern Africa. Critics charge Sarkozy is using the bid to boost French business in former colonies and keep Turkey out of the EU by offering a Mediterranean alliance instead.

French and Moroccan officials signed a string of cooperation accords, including an accord for a EUR1.8 billion (US$2.5 billion) bullet train connecting Tangiers with Casablanca, Morocco's economic hub. The train is to be operational in 2013, the head of Morocco's National Railway office, Rabie Khlie, told the official MAP news agency.

French nuclear manufacturer Areva and OCP, a Moroccan conglomerate of mining and chemical industries, signed a deal to develop cooperation and research in the field of natural uranium, Areva said in a statement Tuesday.

The deal comes as several countries are looking to build nuclear reactors - including Morocco - to meet growing energy needs.

Areva, which is benefiting from this boom, is seeking to expand its sources of uranium after losing its monopoly on uranium in Niger this summer amid competition from China and other countries.

Sarkozy's three-day visit, including several French government ministers and dozens of French executives, was a sign of the weight Morocco and France place on their ties.

Sarkozy told the official MAP news agency that he sees the Muslim kingdom as "a pillar of the Mediterranean Union." He was to speak to the new Moroccan parliament in Rabat on Tuesday.

Comments
What weapons the USA, Russia and China may use in case of World War III
USA plays to pretend a mighty dragon that can no longer breathe fire
Sanctions do not stop foreign countries from buying Russia's S-400 systems
Mikhail Gorbachev shares his thoughts on nuclear war
Russia unveils nuclear-powered interstellar spaceship
Moving inexorably towards war
Russia close to recognising Donetsk and Luhansk republics after Donbass elections
Russia’s sanctions against Ukraine send message to Washington
World War I: Remembering the fallen, and the war criminals
Sanctions do not stop foreign countries from buying Russia's S-400 systems
Norwegians complain of demoralised NATO soldiers
NATO to build prestrike staging base in Georgia
On the report of Human Rights Watch against the DPRK
2018: A critical lack of common sense in world governance
NATO to build prestrike staging base in Georgia
Russia unveils nuclear-powered interstellar spaceship
Russia unveils nuclear-powered interstellar spaceship
Capital outflow from Russia sets new records
Putin prepares bitter and hysterical missile surprise to 'American partners'
Putin prepares bitter and hysterical missile surprise to 'American partners'
Austria will not ruin its friendship with Russia despite spy scandal