France backs Dubai's bid to host Expo 2020

Expo 2020 bid: The UAE's ambassador to France has said it will back Dubai's bid to host Expo 2020.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, shakes hands with the French president Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris yesterday. Sheikh Mohammed’s visit follows his appearance at the presentation of Dubai’s bid for Expo 2020 on Wednesday. Yoan Valat / EPA
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PARIS // The president of France has praised Dubai's bid to host Expo 2020.

Francois Hollande's remarks were contained in a statement issued by the Elysee Palace late last night following his meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. The leaders met at the palace in Paris.

"The President of the republic reiterated its commitment to the strategic partnership between France and the United Arab Emirates," the statement said. "In the wake of his visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, January 15, 2013, he praised the quality of our political dialogue and the dynamism of our bilateral cooperation, particularly in the economic and commercial fields.

"The head of state praised the advantages of the application of Dubai Expo 2020."

The statement came after the UAE's ambassador in Paris said France had told him it would back Dubai's bid.

"They are going to support us, officially, yes," said Mohamed Meer Abdalla Al Raeesi.

The United Kingdom has already publicly pledged its support for Dubai's expo bid.

Mr Al Raeesi was speaking after this week's general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), which oversees world expos.

Dubai and the other three bidders still in the race gave presentations about their plans at the meeting in Paris, which Sheikh Mohammed attended.

France is one of 166 BIE member countries. Most of the delegates who will choose the winning bid in November are diplomats, with many based in Paris.

"One-hundred-and-forty members of the BIE who are going to vote are here in Paris," Mr Al Raeesi said. "We are doing a lot of lobbying, and the other bidding countries are doing the same."