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France hails deal to build ships for Mozambique as industrial victory

France's government is vaunting a €200 million euro ($270 million) ship contract from Mozambique as a symbol for French industrial renewal, and as salvation for Cherbourg's ship-building industry.

It's an unusual claim of victory. The money is coming from one of the world's poorest countries and a major recipient of European aid, and going to a company run by a Lebanese billionaire who faced investigation for past financial dealings.

French President Francois Hollande and Mozambique President Armando Guebuza formally launched work at the shipyard in Cherbourg on Monday. The deal involves 30 trawlers and patrol ships. Hollande's office says it will provide two years of work for 400 employees at ship-builder Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie, and help Mozambique fight illegal trafficking and piracy and protect offshore drilling platforms.