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Chirac Outlines Franco-African Cooperation - 2003-02-21

French President Jacques Chirac suggested Friday that Africa should benefit from at least 10 years of favorable trade terms for its agricultural exports. Mr. Chirac also outlined new strategies for French-African cooperation at the end of a summit with African leaders in Paris.

President Chirac said relations between France and Africa had entered a new phase - that of equal partnership, rather than one of assistance from France to Africa. "The new partnership extended from development issues, such as fighting AIDS and improving agriculture and education, to fighting terrorism and organized crime," Mr. Chirac said. "France would encourage African development, but not dictate what to do."

But the French president also repeated his call for African governments to work harder at establishing real democracies and at respecting human rights.

Mr. Chirac spoke to reporters at the end of a French-Africa summit that was marked by the controversial presence of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and the controversial absence of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.