Monday, February 4, 2008

DPA: France, Romania agree to strengthen ties

Bucharest - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Romanian counterpart Traian Basescu on Monday agreed to a enter into a strategic partnership in the fields of business, energy, security and culture. Sarkozy began a short visit to Romania Monday. The bilateral agreement he and Basescu signed was the first that France has signed with an Eastern European country.

"France wants Romania to find its place in Europe," Sarkozy said at a joint press conference in Bucharest. The two leaders had agreed that French company Gaz de France would be associated with the European Union's Nabucco gas pipeline project and that Romania would support its involvement, Basescu said.

The 3,300 pipeline will transport gas from the Middle East and Central Asia to Europe. Sarkozy and Basescu also discussed international issues, including that of Kosovo. Sarkozy welcomed the re-election of Serbia's pro- Western President Boris Tadic and described independence for Kosovo as "inescapable."Reiterating Romania's position, Basescu said his country would stand as an "extremely loyal partner of the EU," but would not acknowledge a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo.

Sarkozy on Monday, meanwhile, expressed confidence that a United Nations resolution condemning rebels in Chad and supporting the Chadian government would pass. "It seems that our Russian friends will vote for (the resolution)," he told the joint press conference. "There is a legitimate government in Chad that must be supported," Sarkozy said. Sarkozy added that he had been in phone contact in the last days with Chadian President Idriss Deby as well as with the leadership Libya, Senegal and other African states that have been calling for a UN resolution to support the government of Chad. He added that France would only intervene (if at all) on the basis of a UN resolution. Basescu said that in case of such a resolution Romania would also be willing to offer reinforcements for a European Union security mission to Chad.

Sarkozy's five-hour working trip to Romania, followed his marriage to pop singer Carla Bruni at the weekend. Sarkozy was also scheduled to make a speech to the Romanian parliament and meet with Romanian Premier Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

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