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France to sign pact to develop Libya's nuclear energy

Written by: Staff

PARIS, Mar 5: France will sign a pact with Libya in the next two to three weeks to help develop the North African country's civilian nuclear energy programme, a top French legislator said today on his return from Tripoli.

''An agreement on cooperation in civilian nuclear power will be signed the next two to three weeks,'' Patrick Ollier, president of the French National Assembly's economic affairs committee, told Reuters.

''The governments have already given their approval.'' France, home to the the world's largest maker of nuclear reactors, Areva, and top nuclear power producer EDF, expressed interest last May to develop peaceful atomic energy in Libya, after it had voluntarily agreed to give up internationally banned weapons.

In 2003, Libya promised to give up nuclear, chemical and biological arms. It also signed additional protocols with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi said at the time that he still hoped to develop a nuclear programme for peaceful means.

Libya cast off more than a decade of international ostracism in 2003 when it accepted responsibility and began paying compensation for the bombing of airliners over Scotland and Niger in 1988 and 1989.

Fears over oil and gas supplies and climate change have also pushed nuclear power into the limelight as a means to produce energy without emitting much carbon dioxide, blamed for global warming.

Reversing a decades-old policy, US President George W Bush last week signed a deal with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to allow India access to American atomic technology and fuel to meet its soaring energy needs.


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