France seals nuclear, aid deals with Tunisia

France and Tunisia have concluded a nuclear cooperation deal and an €80 million-euro aid package for the latter, Reuters reports.
The deal to help Tunisia develop civil nuclear technology was struck a year ago during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy (pictured) and was accompanied by agreements on industrial cooperation and transport, Tunisian state news agency TAP said.
It follows similar atomic energy deals with Algeria, Libya and Morocco and will help Tunisia develop its first nuclear power station by 2020, producing 900 megawatts of electricity, the equivalent of 20 percent of the country’s energy needs.
Loans and grants signed off on Thursday last week will bolster drinking water and irrigation projects, migration management and support for job training and business starts in Tunisia, French government finance agency AFD said in a statement.
France is Tunisia’s biggest trading partner and its top foreign investor outside the oil sector, according to the French embassy Web site.
There are 1200 French firms in the country out of a total of 3000 foreign companies. Trade flows between France and its former colony grew to €7.2 billion last year from €7 billion in 2007.
Sarkozy visited Tunisia a year ago and dismissed concerns over its human rights record, portraying its counter-terrorism efforts as a bulwark against the emergence of a “Taliban-type” regime in north Africa.