Syria, France to boost economic cooperation

08:34, February 21, 2010      

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The Syrian and French prime ministers on Saturday called for boosting economic relations between the two countries to match the level of standing political relations.

Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otri on Saturday held talks with his French counterpart Francois Fillon who arrived in Damascus on Friday evening for a two-day official visit to Syria, hailing Fillon's visit marks a new stage of cooperation between the two countries.

Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otri (R) welcomes the visiting French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in Damascus, Syria, Feb. 20, 2010. (Xinhua/Bassim)

Otri hoped that the talks will lead to bolstering cooperation in economy, trade, industry and transport, stressing to expand Syrian-French cooperation in the fields of training and education and establishing investment partnership.

The Syrian prime minister invited French companies to expand investment, particularly in the fields of energy, oil, gas, transportation and public services.

Otri added that Syria is looking forward to Europe and France in particular to play a more active role in the Middle East peace process, urging the international community to push Israel to lift its siege on Gaza and to rebuild the strip.

Fillon affirmed that France is committed to achieving successful and fruitful cooperation with Syria and boosting economic relations to match the level of standing political relations, reiterating the desire of his country and of French businessmen and companies for working and investing in Syria.

Fillon noted that the process of development in the Middle East requires peace, security and stability, affirming Syria's pivotal role in achieving peace in the region.

He expressed France's readiness to work for resuming indirect negotiations between Syria and Israel in cooperation and coordination with Turkey.

Syria and France on Saturday signed 11 agreements, documents and memos of understanding on cooperation in the fields of aviation, culture, education, tourism, agriculture and economy.

The two sides also signed an agreement for purchasing two small 70-seat passenger planes of the ATR 72 model, in addition to extending the memo of understanding on selling 14 Airbus planes to Syrian Air.

The bilateral relations between Paris and Damascus have witnessed remarkable progress in recent years. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited France in July 2008 and November 2009 and French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid visits to Syria in September 2008 and January 2009.

Due to the positive development of bilateral relations, French companies began to invest the big potentials available in Syria, and the French Development Agency (FDA) opened its office in Damascus to fund renewable energy projects and small- and medium- sized enterprises in Syria.

Source: Xinhua
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