French minister lauds ties with UAE

ABU DHABI - French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie on Saturday affirmed the strong ties between the UAE and France and the cooperation between the two countries in various domains, particularly in the military fields.

By (Wam)

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Published: Sun 25 Apr 2004, 12:36 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:01 AM

Speaking at a Press conference she held at the Officers' Club here, Michele Alliot-Marie said that the fact that she was visiting the UAE for the third time in few months as well as the repeated exchange of visits between UAE and French military officers were a clear proof of the strength of the two countries' relations.

"Apart from the military co-operation, the UAE and France share common political understanding which emphasises the role of the United Nations in all international affairs,' she said.

She said that she had met Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Lt. General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Deputy Crown Prince and Armed Forces Chief of Staff, and had discussed with them a number of regional and international issues, noting that the talks had been held in an atmosphere of understanding.

She expressed France's desire to see Iraq restore its full sovereignty, asserting that France would participate in the reconstruction of Iraq on condition that the authority was transferred to the Iraqi people and responsibility was delegated to the Uited Nations.

"France will not take part in the reconstruction of Iraq unless these conditions have been met," she added. She said that all the officials she met had shown their grave concern about the situation in Iraq, particularly the unity of Iraq, while sharing France's policy of the need for Iraq to restore its full sovereignty and political authority. On the military contracts between France and the UAE, she said they were progressing smoothly.

Responding to a question on the possibility of sending AGCC forces to Iraq, she said that all had shown their political solidarity with Iraq but no one talked about sending forces. Asked whether France was worried about Iran's nuclear programme, she said that everyone knew the role France played along with Britain and the United States to subject Iran's nuclear programme for inspection by IAEA, expressing the hope that the Iranian government would continue to cooperate with IAEA.

The French Minister was received by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on Saturday afternoon. She handed to him a written note from President Jacques Chirac. An official statement said the message dealt with "aspects of existing cooperation between the two countries" and "regional and international matters of common concern."

She said France was prepared to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq "if circumstances allow that and the Iraqi authorities make such a request."

Asked to clarify her country's stand on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's threat to assassinate Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, she said France believed that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians was "one of the important causes of instability in the region and terrorism."

She added: "We reiterate that the roadmap is a good solution which should be implemented as the problem could not be solved through assassinating people."

The minister observed that, "it is vitally important" that the two countries exchanged views in the light of the "worrying situation witnessed by the region during the past several months".

She said her current visit to Oman was aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation in the defence field, including joint exercises.

Ms Alliott-Marie added her talks with Omani officials centred on the deteriorating situation in Iraq and terrorism.

Both countries, she stressed, held similar views on the two issues, adding that she hoped that the international community would "play a major role through the United Nations to enable people of the region to live in stability and peace."

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