France to Have Military Base in Emirates

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- France will set up a permanent military base of up to 500 troops in the United Arab Emirates, the French government said Tuesday during a visit there by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The countries also signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, which would be a first step toward building a nuclear reactor in the Emirates.

The deal will make France one of the first Western countries other than the United States to have a base in the Persian Gulf region and would give Paris the ability to project its forces into a crucial oil-producing region. Sarkozy's office said the base in Abu Dhabi would have 400 to 500 permanent personnel.

"France responds to its friends," Sarkozy said following the signing of the military accord. "France and the Emirates signed a reciprocal defense accord in 1995. Our friends from the Emirates asked that this accord be prolonged and asked that a base with 400 personnel be opened."