Saudi-French civil N-pact ‘soon’


A deal could be completed “soon,” Lagarde said. “The talks have progressed well.”
Lagarde had a day of meetings with King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and top officials, including Ali Bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, and Jubara Al-Sireisiri, Minister of Transport.


The meetings focused on stepping up bilateral cooperation between the two countries for oil price stability, in the transportation sector and for civilian use of nuclear energy.


Lagarde gave no details of what would be covered by the civil nuclear cooperation pact, but officials said it could be completed and signed by the end of 2009.


“It involves cooperation in civil nuclear energy under the best security conditions,” Lagarde told reporters in Riyadh.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has already signed civilian nuclear deals with Arab oil producers Algeria and Libya, offered Riyadh help last year to develop civilian nuclear energy, AFP reported.
A few months later, the United States said it would help the world’s top oil exporter to develop peaceful nuclear energy.


Russia has also expressed interest in helping Saudi Arabia develop a civilian nuclear energy program.
The Gulf Cooperation Council said in 2007 it was studying a joint nuclear energy program and had been in touch with the UN atomic energy watchdog about cooperating over such a scheme.


Lagarde said she held talks with Saudi oil officials on how to stabilize oil prices, which have swung wildly in the past year, and that a working group on the issue could meet soon in Paris.


“We want less volatility, more predictability,” Lagarde said late Saturday after arriving in Riyadh. She added that oil prices, currently around $ 57 a barrel, would be reasonable at between $ 70 and $ 80 a barrel, roughly half of the peak hit in July 2008.


“Most people would agree that anywhere between 70 and 80 dollars would be good,” she said.


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