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France open to UAE investments in nuclear industry, says minister 

May 21, 2024 at 10:53 am

France’s Minister for Economy and Finances Bruno Le Maire delivers a speech during in Ergue-Gaberic, western France, on 17 May, 2024 [FRED TANNEAU/AFP via Getty Images]

France is open to the United Arab Emirates investing in its nuclear energy industry, the French finance minister said on Tuesday, ahead of discussions in the Gulf state with UAE officials.

Reuters was told in March that the UAE had approached several European countries about investing in their nuclear power infrastructure through its state nuclear power company.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters he would have discussions in the UAE to see whether the Gulf state was interested in investing in France’s nuclear industry. He said that there were many possibilities for how the UAE could invest, including in private companies such as nuclear fuel specialist Orano, which is majority owned by the government.

“We are open to that kind of cooperation,” confirmed Le Maire, who was in Abu Dhabi to sign a strategic partnership with the UAE on artificial intelligence.

French state-controlled energy provider EDF is set to build and operate six new nuclear reactors in France, with the government providing tens of billions of euros in public financing.

Sources previously told Reuters that the UAE nuclear energy company wanted to be a minority investor in overseas nuclear power infrastructure assets without managing or operating them.

Le Maire was due to hold talks with Khaldoon Al-Mubarak, a close confidant of the UAE president, the managing director of the Abu Dhabi government fund Mubadala, and chairman of the UAE’s state nuclear energy company, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. He was also scheduled to meet separately with Sultan Al-Jaber, the UAE’s minister of industry and advanced technology, and chief executive of Abu Dhabi state oil company Adnoc.

According to the French minister, his government is willing to provide the UAE with assistance if the Gulf state decides to expand its own nuclear power industry. Reuters heard in April that the UAE was planning to build four new nuclear reactors. “If there is any possibility to extend the cooperation to the UAE on the nuclear field, we stand ready for that,” he said.

The UAE is a US security partner. It became the first Arab state to operate a nuclear power plant when it opened the Barakah facility in Abu Dhabi in 2021.

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