France will open a permanent military base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced following a visit to the country.

Up to 500 troops will be stationed at the base in Abu Dhabi.

Sarkozy says France is responding to the needs of its friends.

“France and the Emirates signed a reciprocal defence accord in 1995,” he says.

“Our friends from the Emirates asked that this accord be prolonged and asked that a base with 400 personnel be opened.”

The two nations also signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, which is the first step towards building a nuclear reactor in the UAE.

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By staff writer