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Sarkozy arrives in Saudi Arabia, starting 1st Gulf tour
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08:14, January 14, 2008

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in the Saudi capital on Sunday to start his first tour to the Gulf region since coming into office, which will also take himto Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Sarkozy was greeted at the airport by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz. The two leaders will later discuss bilateral ties and regional issues, including the Iranian nuclear issue and the Middle East peace process.

Sarkozy-Abdullah talks will also cover ongoing negotiations on arms sales including secure communication equipment, reconnaissance aircrafts, radar networks and helicopters, according to French defense industry sources.

Four agreements are lined-up to be signed in Riyadh on Sunday, according to the French presidential office, which indicates that the accords will include "the institutionalization of political consultations, dialogue on energy issues, enhancement of university training opportunities for Saudi students in France as well as the development of professional training."

Of the three-nation visits, only the visit to Qatar is a state visit, the other two being official visits, the French presidential office said on Friday.

But the three visits have a common objective, which is "to reaffirm the friendship of France with these three countries," the presidential office said.

On Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, France and the United Arab Emirates are expected to sign an intergovernmental agreement setting the framework for cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear energy.


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