French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to open France's first permanent military base in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which will bring the country a strategic important role in the Gulf Arab region and a key supply route for oil.
According to French officials, Sarkozy will visit Abu Dhabi to formally open the base on Tuesday, which was announced in January last year.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who is ahead of Sarkozy to inaugurate the military base in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, said the base in the gulf is important for international cooperation to fight against piracy and guard routes.
"We have to defend traffic and trade and we are interested in the gulf and want to bring about the necessary balance in this region," Kouchner said. As some 90 percent of European trade traffic is by sea, French military base in Abu Dhabi aimed to support and train France's allies in the region.
Named "Peace Camp," the base will host up to 500 troops in three sites on the banks of the Strait of Hormuz, just opposite to Iran. The base includes a navy and logistical base, an air base with three fighter planes and a training camp.
According to French media, in a recent interview to Diplomatic magazine, Sarkozy reasserted that the new military presence underlined France's desire "to participate fully in the stability of this region that is essential for the world's equilibrium."
During his visit, Sarkozy will also lead a French business group seeking profitable arms and civilian nuclear deals. The French manufacturer Dassault Aviation has so far never sold Rafales abroad. France hopes the UAE can be persuaded to sign a contract of 60 new Rafales, which amounts to 6 billion to 8 billion euros (about 8 billion to 11 billion U.S. dollars). However, a Dassault's spokesman said last Saturday that the finalization of the contract is not expected to be made in the coming days.
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