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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Macron tours French naval base near Louvre Abu Dhabi

Meanwhile, Brigitte Macron visits the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

French president Emmanuel Macron toured a French naval base in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, a sign of Paris' deepening military and cultural ties to Abu Dhabi.

Mr Macron visited the naval base at Abu Dhabi's Port Zayed, which sits just across the waters of the Arabian Gulf from the new Louvre Abu Dhabi, which he helped inaugurate on Wednesday night.

A military band played La Marseillaise and an honour guard met Mr Macron before he boarded and walked through the French frigate Jean Bart.

The French president later addressed gathered sailors there.

He described the base as a crucial part of France's battle against extremists like ISIL in the region, as well as the effort to stop smugglers and piracy in the Arabian Gulf and surrounding waters.

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He also applauded the cooperation the French military has throughout the region, specifically in the UAE.

Mr Macron's wife, Brigitte, meanwhile visited the capital's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

The French naval base opened in 2009 and shows France's deepening military cooperation with the UAE. It also stations soldiers and planes at Al Dhafra Air Base, home to some of the 5,000 American soldiers stationed in the country.