UPDATE 2-Sarkozy calls on Congo, former foes to work together

Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:29pm GMT

* French president on three-nation African trip

* Urges regional cooperation after lowering of tensions

* State nuclear group Areva signs uranium deal with Congo

(Adds details of Brazzaville leg)

By Joe Bavier

KINSHASA, March 26 (Reuters) - President Nicolas Sarkozy, in Africa with a team of French executives eager for deals, urged Congo and its former enemies on Thursday to launch a new partnership based on exploiting the region's natural riches.

Sarkozy's appeal in the Democratic Republic of Congo helped calm the anger of some Congolese who interpreted his call in January for the vast country to "share the wealth" of eastern provinces with neighbouring Rwanda as a slight on sovereignty.

"I have certainly not come to tell you what to do," Sarkozy told Congo's parliament on the first visit by a French president in 25 years.

"The truth is that the peoples of central Africa will not change their address, nor the laws of nature. If they cooperate as good neighbours, they will be rich and peaceful. But if it is survival of the strongest, they will remain poor and unhappy."   Continued...

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