Shaking hands and smiling, French President Francois Hollande and Mozambique President Armando Guebuza formally launched the ship-building project Monday at a struggling shipyard in Cherbourg, on France’s Atlantic coast. Shipbuilder Constructions mecaniques de Normandie (CMN) says the contract will provide two years of work for around 400 French employees. Mozambique officials say the ships will help fight illegal trafficking and piracy, and protect offshore oil and gas drilling platforms. The patrol ships will need naval guns and other military equipment, and so there are also negotiations under way about buying the needed weaponry from France, Mozambique Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze said. “Yes there will be” weapons purchases, he told The Associated Press by telephone. “It’s important not only to have ships. There will also be a need to make sure that they are protected.” He would not give details, but said the money for the ship deal came “from a loan from another country, but I can’t say which one.” Hollande’s office said the contract with CMN is just part of a larger global deal with the holding company Privinvest, owned by Lebanese magnate Iskandar Safa. Hollande’s office wouldn’t comment on the possible weapons negotiations because the deal is not public. Safa, who played a prominent role in Monday’s events in Cherbourg, declined to give details on the agreements involved. Safa, who helped negotiate the release of French hostages in Lebanon in 1988, faced a French arrest warrant for several years in the 2000s because of suspicions around his financial transactions with senior French officials. The case against him was dropped in 2009 by the French prosecutors for lack of evidence.
However, Pakistan has not yet made a formal request for cooperation in producing nuclear electricity. This was stated by the ambassador of France to Pakistan, Philippe Thiebaud, while talking to mediapersons on Wednesday at Schneider Electricas road show. Schneider Electric is a France-based multinational corporation that specialises in electricity distribution and automation management. It displayed its products at a road show titled aWorld of Energy Efficiency for a better Pakistana on Wednesday. The display focused on efficient electric equipment for different consumers, both domestic and industrial, were displayed. While acknowledging that Pakistan was working with China for civil nuclear power, the French ambassador said it was the countryas own choice. However, he said France was ready to consider Pakistanas request for enhancing civil nuclear cooperation. Responding to a query, the ambassador said France had not yet provided any assistance to Pakistan for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. However, it was providing assistance for smaller projects such as the Gabban hydropower located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Jagran project (with a capacity of producing 100MW) and Munda Dam. He also highlighted that France had committed around $300 million to finance different hydropower projects in Pakistan as the country was facing an acute energy crisis. Benoit Dubarle, the companyas country president of UAE, Oman and Pakistan, said the road show would offer a platform to citizens to identify new opportunities and products in the energy sector. aThis is our effort to bring the best technology and expertise in energy management to our customers in Pakistan,a he said. Company representatives told visitors that most of the equipment installed in Pakistan, ranging from power houses and industrial units to domestic appliances, was not energy efficient. aOur equipment is costly but provides electricity efficiency of up to 95 per cent.