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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 22:36 GMT
Gaddafi visit seals French deals
French President Nicolas Sarkozy with Libya's Col Muammar Gaddafi at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Monday
Critics say the president has ignored Libya's record on rights
Libya and France have signed a number of business agreements at a ceremony hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The deals include Libya's purchase of 21 Airbus aircraft and a nuclear co-operation accord.

Their total value was not made public but earlier President Sarkozy said they would be worth 10bn euros (7.2bn).

Mr Sarkozy has defended the welcome granted to Col Gaddafi in the face of domestic criticism over the visit.

Opponents of Col Gaddafi's first visit since 1973 include France's opposition Socialists, as well as Mr Sarkozy's own human rights minister.

Planes and plants

France is the first Western country to welcome Col Gaddafi since he took the decision to end the country's diplomatic isolation four years ago.

Our country is not a doormat on which a leader can wipe off the blood of his crimes
Rama Yade
French human rights minister

Warming economic ties were given an additional spur in July, when negotiations between the two leaders resulted in the release of six foreign medics imprisoned in Libya on charges of infecting children with HIV.

Following a signing ceremony on Monday, it was confirmed that Libyan companies had agreed to buy 21 Airbus planes.

National carrier Libyan Airlines will take four A350s, four A330s, and seven A320s, company officials and French officials said, while Afriqiyah Airlines will buy six A350s.

The deal concludes an initial agreement struck in June.

The two parties also signed a co-operation accord to develop the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the supply of one "or several" nuclear reactors to desalinate sea water, Mr Sarkozy's office said in a statement.

On the arms sector, the two signed a memorandum of co-operation, with Libya promising to negotiate exclusively with France for all future military purchases. No more details were given.

Sarkozy on defensive

The five-day visit had received strong condemnation from various quarters.

Socialist leader Francois Hollande said Mr Sarkozy had invited "a head of state who justifies international terrorism".

A tent under construction for Col Gaddafi in the grounds of guest residence Hotel Marigny next door to the presidential palace in Paris on Monday
Col Gaddafi had his own Bedouin tent put up in the hotel grounds

Centrist politician Francois Bayrou said the visit was "shocking".

And Mr Sarkozy's junior minister for human rights, Rama Yade, said: "Col Gaddafi must understand that our country is not a doormat on which a leader - whether terrorist or not - can wipe off the blood of his crimes."

But Mr Sarkozy defended his actions, saying the right course was to "encourage those who renounce terrorism, who renounce the possession of nuclear arms".

"France must speak with all of those who want to return to the road of respectability and reintegrate the international community," he said.

Mr Sarkozy said he had asked Col Gaddafi for "progress on the path of human rights".

Libya ended decades of international isolation four years ago, when it gave up its pursuit of nuclear arms and pledged to renounce terrorism.

Col Gaddafi is travelling with an entourage of 400 officials and has erected a Bedouin tent for his stay in central Paris.


Your comments:

I feel shame and outrage. In France we often say that "Money don't smell" but in this case it clearly have a taste: blood and tears.
Sebastien Metrot, Paris, France

It sounds to me as if he's had a change of heart when it comes to his "foreign policy", and is looking to prove it. Let's hope he doesn't go back on his word.
Steve, Somerset, England

Lybia cannot undo what it has done and improving civil liberties is something that no country can change overnight but by taking a first step towards international norms and being rewarded for doing so with contracts such as these can only encourage it to take futher steps in future.
Mark Houlden, northampton

Well, we're talking politics here and Sarkozy is a political realist. The French economy needs a boost and Gaddafi will certainly come in handy in an oil crisis.
Brigitte, Paris, France

Good for Sarko. Rapprochement can only come by talking - not by turning your back and slamming the door in someone's face - as Gordon Brown has just done to the whole of Africa.
Gordon Toumaniantz, Saint Maigrin, France




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