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France, Saudi Arabia Sign Cooperation Deals


France and Saudi Arabia signed four strategic agreements Sunday, shortly after President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in the kingdom.

An aide to the French president says the deals cover the gas, oil and mining sectors, as well as political cooperation and education.

Saudi state media also say the kingdom is expected to agree to buy French military equipment during Mr. Sarkozy's visit.

The French president is in Saudi Arabia at the start of a three-day Mideast tour.

In an interview with the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat ahead of his trip, Mr. Sarkozy said he wants to increase pressure on Iran to suspend its nuclear activities. He said pressure should be applied on Iran within the U.N. Security Council and the European Union.

Mr. Sarkozy is also scheduled to visit Qatar and the United Arab Emirates this week. In the UAE, he is expected to sign an agreement for cooperating in developing civilian nuclear energy.

France signed similar nuclear cooperation agreements with Libya and Algeria last year.

The French president also says he will consider resuming normal relations with Syria if it plays, in his words, a "positive role" in ending Lebanon's political crisis.

He says Lebanon's pro-Western and pro-Syrian factions must quickly implement an Arab initiative that calls for electing Lebanese military chief Michel Suleiman as a consensus president.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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