- The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs today confirmed statements from the Libyan government, saying the two countries were to cooperate on nuclear technologies. Aiding Libya's civilian nuclear energy programme, France was giving a positive signal to states denouncing weapons of mass destruction.
France - which is one of the world's few countries to possess weapons of mass destruction - had taken notice of Libya's "transparent" efforts to end its nuclear and chemical weapons programmes and dismantle such weapons under UN supervision, a spokesman of the French Ministry said in Paris today.
The spokesman confirmed that Libya earlier this month had presented a request for cooperation in the field of the civilian nuclear technologies. "France decided to take a favourable action towards the Libyan cooperation request," added the spokesman.
France and Libya now were to closer define how to cooperate "in the field of peaceful applications of nuclear energy," according to the Paris Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The content of this cooperation needed to be studied closer and the parties were only at "an exploratory stage," the Ministry added.
The French government planned to propose a more defined agreement to its Libyan counterparts within short time. It would be "necessary to develop existing capacities by taking account of the Libyan needs," the Ministry's spokesman said. A French delegation recently had departed to Tripoli to discuss these needs and what Paris could offer.
The deal was also meant as a symbolic gesture - typical for Paris - awarding Libya for its disarmament. The foreseen cooperation "shows that states that respect their international commitments on non-proliferation, and with which a certain level of transparency has been established on the goals they wish to pursue, can legitimately benefit from civilian nuclear technologies necessary to their development," the spokesman said.
Libya's state-controlled news agency JANA yesterday announced that France had agreed to the Libyan cooperation request on Monday. France's Ambassador to Libya had thus given Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgham the official answer from Paris, according to JANA.
Libya only last year was welcomed back to the folder of cooperation partners for Western nations, after its leader Muammar Ghaddafi renounced weapons of mass destruction and invited the UN's nuclear and chemical weapons watchdogs to supervise Libya's arms dismantling. The UN agencies were given access to all needed documentation and soon declared Libya to be a trustworthy partner.
Relations with France were strongly improved in November last year, during a visit by President Jacques Chirac in Tripoli. The French President told the Libyan leader that bilateral relations now were totally normalised. Mr Ghaddafi during that visit made his first rapprochements regarding a possible nuclear technology cooperation deal with France.
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