Reactors Planned for Emirates

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed on Sunday plans to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates amid reports that French firms could construct up to two nuclear reactors there.

Sarkozy said in an interview with pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat before a three-day visit to Gulf states: "My visit to the United Arab Emirates will be ... the occasion to sign an agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

"I have said often that the Muslim world does not have less rights than the rest of the world to use civilian nuclear power to meet its energy needs in full conformity with the obligations that derive from international law," he added.

French companies Areva, Total and Suez could build two, third-generation nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates, Al-Jazeera Television said Sunday.

The weekend edition of France's Le Figaro newspaper said one plant could be built under the agreement, although a formal contract was some way off.

Areva, which developed the so-called EPR reactor, was not immediately available for comment.

Sarkozy was due in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday. The chief executive of French reactor maker Areva, Anne Lauvergeon, and Total chief executive Christope de Margerie will accompany him.

France has already signed civilian nuclear accords with Arab oil-producing countries Libya and Algeria.