Nicolas Sarkozy has formally opened a military base in the United Arab Emirates; France’s first in the Gulf region.
The French president was joined by the Emirates’ interior minister in the capital Abu Dhabi for the ceremony. The new base should house some 500 French troops, incorporating naval and air units. Later Sarkozy took part in another ceremony with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to mark the beginning of construction work on the building of an annex of the Louvre Museum. French officials said the Abu Dhabi base will deepen ties with the Gulf Arab state, the world’s third largest oil producer, which is seeking France’s nuclear energy know-how. The base will also strengthen efforts to battle piracy in the region and reassure the Emirates, which is concerned about Iran’s nuclear threat.