- French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, today was on a visit to Angola to mend the long soured relations provoked by an arms deal scandal. Five cooperation agreements were signed during Mr Sarkozy's short visit.
Angolan and French ties were broken by the so-called "Angolagate" scandal, which involved the sale of the arms in the war-torn country in the 1990's by the arms traders Pierre Falcone, a Frenchman, and Israeli national Arkady Gaydamak. The duo was accused of paying a network of political contacts - including a son of late President François Mitterrand - to favour their activities in the country.
President Sakorzy's visit came ahead of a 42 men trial in September, which includes former senior government officials in the sale of arms in Angola for accepting payments from two traders between 1993 and 2000.
The French President's visit would be a new down to Angolans, with the signing of new deals involving French businesses. In a meeting with Angola President José Eduardo dos Santos in Luanda, five cooperation agreements were signed. These were in the fields of higher education and French language, health, water, drainage and education, according to Angolan officials.
President Sarkozy earlierr told 'Jornal de Angola' newspaper that the French Development Agency would open an office in Luanda before the end of the year and offered programmes on agriculture training and the teaching of French.
Speaking to the press after the meeting held in the Angolan presidential palace, Angola's President dos Santos said that "we decided to start a new era in the bilateral relations, marked by a deep friendship, trust and mutual respect." President Sarkozy at the same occasion expressed the wish of his country to work with Angola in the basis of "respect and trust in the construction of a future of development and turn the past page of misunderstanding."
The last visit by a French president to Angola was in 1998. Angola is one of Africa's greatest oil exporters and represents a booming economy, while France is Europe's third economy, traditionally sending large exports to Africa.
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