29 April 2014

Angolan President Dos Santos Visits France As Relations Thaw

Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos held talks with the French president on Tuesday after years of frosty ties between the two countries.

The one-time rebel leader, who will shortly mark 35 years in power, is on a two day visit, his first trip to Paris for 20 years.

Both France and Angola are keen to normalise their relationship which suffered because of the so-called 'Angolagate' scandal surrounding French arms sales to Luanda, which erupted in the 1990s.

The affair, which implicated members of the French political elite and included accusations that Dos Santos took bribes, damaged trade ties.

Many French businesses suffered as a result, including Air France and the oil company Total.

Angola's state-run daily Jornal de Angola said today's visit marks "a new stage in relations with France".

Although no big tie-ups are expected to be announced, some technical co operation accords are likely in the oil sector - Angola produces 1.8 million barrels per day and is Africa's second biggest oil producer.

French oil firm Total already has a big presence in Angola, accounting for about 30 percent of the country's production and France is the third largest investor in Angola.

Luanda has also dramatically increased spending on defence and France, as one of the world's top arms producers, could be interested in future weapons deals.

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