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France to Bolster Program to Help Secure Africa


France says it will pour money and training into reinforcing Africa's collective security capabilities.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced France was earmarking about $365 million into African security efforts and would train 12,000 African troops for African and United Nations peacekeeping operations. Mr. Sarkozy made the announcement as he wrapped up a two-day summit in Nice that gathered almost 40 African heads of state and government.

Mr. Sarkozy said France believed in Africa's future and was optimistic about its abilities.

The summit in the French Riviera city of Nice pushed for a greater African presence on the world stage. Specifically, President Sarkozy says he will push for Africa to have a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and a greater role in other key international institutions when France takes over the G8 and the G20 presidency next year.

African and French leaders also discussed migration, climate change and the importance of good governance in Africa. Reducing conflicts and promoting democracy on the continent, which is no stranger to coups, were other key issues.

"The question of changing governments militarily, without constitutions, is an issue we cannot tolerate. And therefore we believe that standing by the African continent, by the AU, should be supported and respected," said South African President Jacob Zuma.

A large chunk of the summit concentrated on promoting French and African business ties - as French economic interests on the continent face growing competition from Asia and the United States. For their part, French business leaders announced they would share energy technology with Africa.

Separately, President Sarkozy condemned Israel's Monday raid of a Turkish aid flotilla.

The French president denounced what he described as a disproportionate use of force by the Israeli military against Turkish activists on the vessel. He called for Israelis and Palestinians to return to direct peace talks.

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