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France, Italy Agree on Nuke Power Cooperation

Friday, 09 April 2010 10:30 AM

PARIS – France and Italy on Friday agreed to cooperate more closely to increase nuclear power generation and vowed to come to the aid of debt-laden Greece in order to defend the euro.

At a summit at the Elysee presidential palace, President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Italy's decision to tap into nuclear power and said France was ready to share its expertise as Europe's largest atomic energy producer.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Sarkozy also said the European Union was ready to swing into action "at any time" to activate its rescue plan for Greece.

"Greece is part of the eurozone. We have a responsibility to support Greece and without this, there will be a negative impact on the euro and the eurozone," warned Berlusconi.

The leaders spoke in Paris as financial markets sent a strong message that they had little faith in the IMF-EU rescue scheme aimed for Greece.

Greek bond yields jumped to more than 7.5 percent, the highest readings since the country joined the euro in 2001, while the stock exchange in Athens plunged five percent and the euro fell further against the dollar.

"A support plan has been approved by all members of the eurozone. We are ready to activate it at any time to come to Greece's aid," said Sarkozy.

Nuclear cooperation however was the centrepiece of the summit, with seven government and industry agreements signed between the two countries.

French electricity giant EDF signed a five-year partnership deal with Enel, Italy's largest power company, and turbine maker Ansaldo to develop and build four nuclear reactors in Italy, EDF said in a statement.

The Italian nuclear power plants will be modeled after France's EPR design and Ansaldo, a subsidiary of the aeronautics group Finmeccanica, will be tasked with carrying out technical studies.

Areva, the world's biggest nuclear reactor builder, signed three big deals with Ansaldo, the Techint Group and the CIRTEN Italian university research centre to work together on the Italian plan for four new atomic power plants.

Areva will contribute to "the development of new nuclear industrial skills in Italy," said a statement from the company.

France and Italy last year signed a partnership agreement bringing together major industrial players from both countries for Italy's plan to build the new reactors.

On the eve of the summit, Enel signed a deal with French carmaker Renault and its Japanese partner Nissan to build charging stations in Italy for electric cars, said a senior Renault official.

Patrick Pelata, a senior Renault director, said the deal could also extend to Spain and Latin America, where Enel has a presence.

France and Italy also agreed to form a joint Alpine brigade of several thousand soldiers to specialise in mountain warfare on battlefields like Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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