By John Irish
PARIS (Reuters) – France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will sign an accord on Monday whereby the UAE will guarantee diesel supplies to France, a French presidency source said as Paris looks to diversify its hydrocarbons supplies amid the Ukraine war.
The deal coincides with the visit to Paris of UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MBZ) between July 17-19, his first overseas state visit since taking over from his half-brother in May and the first by a UAE leader since 1991.
President Emmanuel Macron has forged a good relationship with MBZ with investments flowing between both countries, most recently with France sealing its largest-ever overseas sale of the Rafale warplane.
“This is a strong and symbolic gesture,” the French presidency official said, describing the visit.
France and other European countries are looking to diversify their sources of energy in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has seen Russia cut gas supplies to Europe.
Monday’s agreement “aims to bring guarantees from the United Arab Emirates to supply to France quantities of diesel,” the official said.
The two countries would also agree on a global, strategic energy partnership to identify common projects in sectors such as hydrogen, renewable and nuclear energy in their respective countries and elsewhere, the official said, adding a climate fund would also be established.
A new Franco-Emirati business council would also be launched and headed up by TotalEnergies chief Patrick Pouyanne, he said.
Speaking to reporters, MBZ’s diplomatic adviser, Anwar Gargash, told reporters that Abu Dhabi wanted to deepen its economic and cultural ties with Paris focusing on technology and future energies, but that oil remained vital given the current geo-strategical outlook.
“Our oil has traditionally been sold to the Far East. I think right now there is more interest in our oil in Europe … so other than that our interest with France is in sustainable and future energy,” he said.
(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Jonathan Oatis)
FILE PHOTO: Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan speaks as he meets Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street, London, Britain, September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool