France signs pact with Yemen [Archives:2005/821/Front Page]

March 3 2005

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
Yemen and France have signed a military cooperation agreement providing for joint exercises, an exchange of intelligence and the supply of French military equipment to Yemen, the French Defence Minister said on Sunday.

The agreement Michele Alliot-Marie inked with General Abdallah Ali Alaiwa specifies that the six gunboats France had earlier supplied to the Yemeni coastguard will be equipped.

The French minister who visited Yemen upon an invitation by president Ali Abdullah Saleh pointed out that under the accord, joint exercises would take place between the two countries naval forces and special forces.

The agreement also provides for setting up radars and other military equipment on the island of Meon in Bab al-Mandab strait in the Red Sea.

The equipment will enable Yemeni and French forces based in nearby Djibouti to cooperate in fighting drug and arms smuggling, and terrorism.

She said in a press conference that Yemen and France's views towards several strategic world affairs were similar. “We have got today a similar will to fight terrorism and weapons of mass destruction as well as trade of weapons and drugs,” she said.

She also said that their military presence in the region is not competitive to the US existence but rather complementary.