MARRAKESH, Morocco, Oct 23 (AFP): France signed more than two billion euros (2.8 billion dollars) of civilian and military contracts with Morocco Monday during a state visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Top among them was a draft accord for the construction of a high-speed TGV train between the cities of Tangiers and Casablanca, according to Sarkozy's entourage.
About half of the estimated construction cost of 2 billion euros would go to French group Alstom, maker of the high-speed TGV train, as well as French rail operator SNCF and network manager RFF.
Alstom has previously only exported the TGV to South Korea outside of Europe.
The first section between Tangiers and Kenitra should go into operation in 2013, with the line expected to slash the travel time between Tangiers and Casablanca from five hours to just over two when it goes into operation, Alstom said.
The company also signed a 200-million-euro contract to deliver 20 Prima locomotives and build a power plant near the northeastern city of Oujda.
Also signed was a contract for FREMM multipurpose frigates, which the Moroccan press put at 500 million euros.
Other contracts included modernising 25 Puma helicopters and 140 armoured vehicles, and supplying border surveillance equipment.
French nuclear energy firm Areva signed a draft agreement with Morocco's OCP for the extraction of uranium from Moroccan phosphate acid.
Sarkozy arrived Monday in Morocco for a three-day state visit intended to cement ties with the north African country.
King Mohamed VI and his younger brother met France's leader off his plane at the airport of Marrakesh and led him into the central city for a red-carpet welcome and an official reception.
The trip is Sarkozy's first state visit abroad since he was elected president in May.
During the visit Sarkozy is expected to defend his idea of a new Mediterranean union, in which Morocco -- a crossroads for African migration towards Europe -- has already expressed an interest.
Both countries were also to sign accords on judicial cooperation, including a deal that would allow detainees with dual French-Moroccan nationality to choose in which country to serve their sentence.
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