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Niger Hopeful to Sign New Uranium Deal With French Company


FILE - Niger's president, Mahamadou Issoufou, is seen during a May 2013 visit to France.

FILE - Niger's president, Mahamadou Issoufou, is seen during a May 2013 visit to France.

Niger's president, Mahamadou Issoufou, says his country will sign a new uranium mining contract with France’s Areva group within “a few days."

He made the remark in an exclusive interview with VOA’s French to Africa Service.

Talks on the deal, which have lasted for months, have been described as difficult. The French company has been accused of inequitable profit sharing during the past four decades of its work in Niger.

Niger has become the world's fourth-largest producer of the ore after Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia. But uranium has not enriched Niger.

Issoufou acknowledged past difficulties in his country's relationship with Areva but assured "the new deal will be a win-win situation for everybody."

Still, he said poverty remains among the leading causes for the region's many problems.

“But it does not mean the fight is over. We need support from all our partners to eradicate terrorism in the Sahel. Poverty is the principal ally of terrorism. We need support for economic development, too," said Issoufou.

He also expressed concern with the current situation in Libya, saying that "if the country is not stable, it becomes a tremendous threat for the destabilization of the region."

Mahamadou Issoufou, now three years into his term, says he remains devoted to continued economic reforms in his country, and denied that he was already focused on presidential elections in 2016.

Issoufou also said he was looking forward to the Africa summit with President Barack Obama planned for August. He urges U.S. companies to do more business in Africa.
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